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Carla Tuene on Carolus Clusius

 Carla Tuene, Director of the Leiden Botanic Garden in Holland, discusses the history of the man who brought the tulip to Holland.

Allen: So Carla, who is the gentleman we can thank for bringing tulips to Holland?

Carla Tuene, Director of the Leiden Botanic Garden, Netherlands: Carolus Clusius as he's called in Latin, and in those days people were always Latinizing their name. So, in fact, he was Charles De L'Ecluse, and he was born in 1526 in the northern part of France and he was the son of a merchant and he studied law.

Allen: Now tell me exactly how this young man who started out to be a lawyer or attorney got the tulip from Vienna all the way to Holland and started this great craze for this beautiful flower.

Carla: The tulips were introduced by a Flemish man, De Busbeq, who worked in Vienna at the court of the Emperor Maximilian the Second of Hapsburg. He brought the tulip back from the mission in Constantinople. De Busbeq writes in a letter, "I have seen in the gardens of nobles a new flower that is called tulpend." And that was not true, it was called lolly in Turkey. He was wrong, tulpend was actually the hair dress or turban. So now for 400 years, tulips are known under the wrong name. But you cannot change it.

Pictures were made of the tulip by a Swiss man from Zurich, Conrad Gessler, and Clusius must have seen those pictures in Conrad Gessler's book. That was in 1561, and Clusius was in fact, what we would call a stamp collector. He wants to have all the plants that he heard about, read about and saw. And so, when he was in Vienna he asked Mr. De Busbeq to make the first botanic garden there for the emperor, "I want to have some of those bulbs." And he got them. He was asked by the college of curators of the very young Leiden University to come here to make this garden. And he came here in Leiden in October 1593 with his plant collection and his precious tulip bulbs and he started to make this garden in the spring of 1594. And the fame of Clusius was that he looked further. He was a scientist, and he was interested in plants not for medicinal purposes or for food like in the Middle Ages, he was interested to know them, to describe them, to see them, to plant them, to see them grow. Real science! So he had more plants, a broader view, a view over the wall, lets say, and so many plants were introduced for the first time into cultivation in this garden.