Also spelled "Duc van Thol".
According to Peter C. Niissen, the Duc van Tols (Duke of Tol’s) are among the oldest cultivated tulips ever raised in The Netherlands. Although they currently are classified in Division 1 – Single Early Tulips, the Hortus Bulborum makes them a separate class – the Hortus’ Division 1 – because of the tulips’ historic significance and their very early blooms. (Thus, in the Hortus Bublorum listing of divisions, Single Early Tulips become their Division 2.)
Also, the Report of the Tulip Nomenclature Committee, 1914-1915 makes the Duc van Thols (as then known) their Class 1, with Single Early tulips being their Class 2. Accordingg to the "Report", "These varieties, believed to be derived from Tulipa suaveolens, are the earliest-flowering garden Tulips, often being in flower before the end of March and in full flower by April 10. The yellow variety is the earliest, and is succeeded by the others after an interval of a few days. With the exception of 'White Maxima,' the plants do not exceed 6 inches in height. The flower is pointed in the bud, and cup-shape when open."
For more than three hundred years (1600-1900), they were an essential component in all stylish gardens, but became unavailable in the early 1940s. Because they are easily “forced” and naturally early, they were favorite Christmas tulips.
Peter Niissen states that the Duc van Tol Group probably owes its name to Adriaen Duyck, Lord of Oudkarspel (today a village in the provence of North Holland), who, around 1550, married Aleid van Tol. Also, "Duc" means "Duke", and there are many tulips with "Duc" and other noble titles in their names, e.g., Duc de Berlin. At present, the source and meaning of the name is open to conjecture.
Scott Kunst of Old House Gardens notes that the oldest Ducs are the shortest ones -- Duc Red and Yellow from 1595, for example -- and newer ones seem to be taller. He agrees with Rimmer de Vries (see below) that Duc Yellow doesn't look much like a Duc, but in his experience, many of the Ducs are as tall as old Single Early tulips such as Prince de Ligne. Scott does not think that the Ducs' shortness was ever seen as a major virtue, but that the Ducs' earliness was their most important characteristic. Either way, he observes, the Ducs and Single Earlies shade into one another and it will be very difficult to determine whether one or another of the newer Ducs is a counterfeit.
For images of the tulips, please see the Peter C. Niissen website.
See also Report, 1914-15 / Duc van Thol Tulips.
The cultivars in bold below, are in the collection of Hortus Tulipus. All are in the collection of Hortus Bulborum, which is the default authority on them.
The brief descriptive comments below (except where otherwise noted), are courtesy of Rimmer de Vries, who has raised all the Duc van Tols, except 'Vermillion'.
Duc van Tol Aurora, 1700 (HB) , "small red flames on a yellow base"
Duc van Tol Cochineal (Cochenille), 1700 (HB), "nice deep red"
Duc van Tol Double, 1830 (syn.:, Scarlet King) (HB), "A dark red double similar in color to both Cochineal and Max Cramoisie." -- RdV. "Flower cerise. Small, compact; segments cherry-red, with a white margin; 9 inches; April 19, 17 days." -- Report, 1914-15 / Early Double Tulips Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Max Cramoisie, 1700 (HB), "large, deep red" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Orange, 1700 (HB), "bright yellow base and red-orange petals close to salmon" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Primrose, <1921 (HB), 1700 (PCNiissen), "lovely soft pale yellow" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Red ??, 1700. Flower red. Note: This tulip is not included in the Hortus Bulborum list of Duc van Tol tulips. Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Red and White, 1750 (HB), "more red than violet, and two-toned with white edge" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Red and Yellow, 1595 (HB), "red flame with yellow edge, barely distinguishable from T. schrenkii from which the Duc van Tols were bred" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Rose, 1700 (HB), "very nice two-toned, white base merging into a soft rose edge"
Duc van Tol Salmon, c. 1914 (HB), "nice toned red-salmon petals with salmon-yellow edge" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Scarlet, 1850 (HB), "bright scarlet red" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Vermillion, ?? (HB)
Duc van Tol Violet, 1700 (HB), "soft violet with white edge"
Duc van Tol White, 1805 (HB) 1815 (TG), "pure white" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Duc van Tol Yellow, 1700 (HB), "bright yellow, but every time I ordered it, I recieved a possible imposter that grew too tall and was indistinguishable from Prince de Linge or several other solid coloured Single Early yellows. so I believe I may never have raised a true Duc van Tol Yellow" Image Index: Tulip Gallery.
Scarlet King. See: Duc van Tol Double.