Variations of Animals and Plants vol. 2, pp. 385-386 (1868)
Chap. 11 – Bud Variations
Tulips
Charles Darwin

In the propagation of Tulips, seedlings are raised, called selfs or breeders, which, "consist of one plain colour on a white or yellow bottom. These, being cultivated on a dry and rather poor soil, become broken or variegated and produce new varieties. The time that elapses before they break varies from one to twenty years or more, and sometimes this change never takes place."78 The broken or variegated colours which give value to all tulips are due to bud-variation; for although the Bybloemens and some other kinds have been raised from several distinct breeders, yet all the Baguets are said to have come from a single breeder or seedling. This bud-variation, in accordance with the views of MM. Vilmorin and Verlot,79 is probably an attempt to revert to that uniform colour which is natural to the species. A tulip, however, which has already become broken, when treated with too strong manure, is liable to flush or lose by a second act of reversion its variegated colours. Some kinds, as Imperatrix Florum, are much more liable than others to flushing; and Mr. Dickson maintains80 that this can no more be accounted for than the variation of any other plant. He believes that English growers, from care in choosing seed from broken flowers instead of from plain flowers, have to a certain extent diminished the tendency in flowers already broken to flushing or secondary reversion.

78 Loudon's 'Encyclopaedia of Gardening' page 1024.

79. 'Production des Variétés' 1865 p. 63.

80 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1841 page 782; — 1842 page 55.