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 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.