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Exotic Emperor


I’m such a fan of ‘Purissima’, the white emperor tulip, that when I saw ‘Exotic Emperor’ in the catalogue, I had to try it. Exotic Emperor is a double tulip, so this is a good gauge of my love for Purissima. There are double tulips I like, but mostly I vastly prefer the single form; there’s something about it that just twicks my wicket.

This double form, come to think of it, is a new kind of double in the tulip world. There are early doubles (which come out about the same time as the Single Early tulips) and there are late doubles (which, obviously, come out later),  but since Fosterianas are the earliest big tuliips to open, that would make Exotic Emperor an extra early double.  According to van Bourgondien, a venerable bulb company, Exotic Emperor is the latest in the line of Fosteriana tulips.



The twisty buds were a pleasure to watch; when they started to unfold, I didn’t see any yellow streaking (only in its death throes did some pale yellow coloring come up in my Exotic Emperors), but I could see the promised streaks of green.


One source claims Exotic Emperor is fragrant; it may be. My nose didn’t pick it up, though. While Purissima has a mild scent, I didn’t get anything when I sniffed Exotic Emperor; it’s exchanged fragrance for fullness and a little extra color. The promised yellow streaks were more like a gentle creamy blush, which emerged from curly bud-remains.

Exotic Emperor tulip yellow streak

Exotic Emperors do look great en masse, as you can see in the picture at the top of the post (even though it’s a rather small mass, since I ordered only ten to try).  Being large and fluffy, they put on quite a show. Two of the sources I checked say they go for three weeks, but for me it’s been more like a little over two weeks from buds showing color to blasted bloom. (We did have some hot weather, though, which shortens any tulip’s life.)

I’ve enjoyed watching Exotic Emperor, but I must confess my allegiance is still to the single Purissima, one of the most gorgeous tulips in the world. I’m not sorry to have Exotic Emperor in my Fosteriana collection, though; Fosteriana tulips tend to repeat well without any special care, so I’ll enjoy this exotic novelty for years to come.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Cyd May 7, 2009, 3:56 pm

    Being a fan of peonies I really like the double tulips. This one is really beautiful. The ones I do have are reliable returnees, however they are a weird pink which I no longer enjoy. I think I’ll make a special tulip cutting area and try drying them out for the summer. I think the white shades are extremely elegant.

  • Sylvia (England) May 8, 2009, 1:25 am

    Pomona, this is one I haven’t seen before but I rather like it. Of all the tulips I really like the lily flowered form, as in Ballerina and West Point. I will be visiting this series of posts in the Autumn to help with my bulb order for next spring, White Emperor will be on the order – I hope!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • Racquel May 8, 2009, 5:10 am

    I’ve never seen this particular Tulip, he’s a beauty! Thanks for the suggestions on the David Austin Roses. I’ve been wanting to add a couple to my garden. :)

  • Pomona Belvedere May 8, 2009, 9:54 am

    Cyd, I had never thought of the resemblance between peonies and double tulips. Now you menton it, it seems obvious…

    Sylvia, I think you would have been at home in the Ottoman Empire, the lily-flowered form was what they liked, too. I also like the simplicity of the lily-flowered form but with only 7 posts I didn’t get any of them in this series. The next two do have a similar form in a more delicate size, you might like them.

    Raquel, glad you enjoyed him. Good luck with the David Austin roses, they are a treat, have fun choosing.

  • tina May 8, 2009, 12:58 pm

    It is really pretty! I am thinking I like the double form for sure. It reminds me of a peony. Two weeks is pretty good for a bloom.

  • Daffodil Planter May 8, 2009, 10:49 pm

    Fabulous buds, and all. Thank you for showing the stages for this magnificent fellow.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 9, 2009, 1:55 pm

    I think my favorite part of this tulip may be those buds. Sculptural.

  • Nancy March 19, 2010, 11:48 am

    Pomona, you and I must be thinking alike on the tulips this year. My daughter was married in our yard, and her wedding was primarily yellow, green, and white. So I went crazy with Exotic Emporer and Purissima, plus other tulips and lots of daffodils. The most distinctive and remarkable bloom has been the Exotic Emporer. Mine are big and fluffy– totally different! I will definitely plant both of these kinds of tulips again. Thanks for your post about them!

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