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There are 35 species of wild tulips in Kazakhstan. Where to admire their flowering

10 March 2021

Every year in the spring, the steppe is covered with thousands of tulips of different types and colors. This time people are happy, because the appearance of these flowers means the arrival of holidays, sun and warmth. The Persians dedicated poems to the beauty of tulips, the Turks gave their lives for them. In this article, we will tell you where in Kazakhstan you can enjoy the views of this beautiful flower.

Kazakhstan-the birthplace of tulips

The place where tulips appeared for the first time is considered to be the territory of modern Kazakhstan. More than 10 million years ago, an unusually beautiful flower resembling a headdress appeared in the foothills of the Tien Shan. Already from this region, the tulip has spread all over the world.

In the Middle Ages, the death penalty was imposed on those who tried to export tulip bulbs from Constantinople. The Austrian ambassador, risking his life, still brought these flowers to Vienna. Soon tulips appeared in Holland. This is where the “tulip mania” began. The price of these flowers was so high that for three bulbs you could buy a large house in the heart of Amsterdam.


Interesting fact

The “tulip mania” in Europe was so strong that a premium of 100,000 guilders (the currency of the Austrian Empire. – Ed. author) was promised to the one who will grow a black tulip. For this amount, at that time, you could buy several houses in Vienna.

Among the nomads, the tulip represented peace, tranquility and renewal. These modest flowers adorn the steppes of Kazakhstan from the end of March to the end of June. In different regions and cities of Kazakhstan, tulip festivals are held every year.

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Such festivals are designed to tell people new things about tulips, to show their beauty. Previously, whole fields of flowers decorated all the steppe zones of the country. Now, to enjoy this colorful view, you need to drive a few dozen kilometers from the city.

The name “tulip” comes from the Persian word toliban (“turban”), and received its flower for the similarity of the buds with the eastern headdress, resembling a turban.


Scientists refer the tulip to the genus of perennial herbaceous bulbous plants of the Lily family. There are 35 species of wild tulips in Kazakhstan. 18 of them are listed in the Red Book and are protected by the state. According to Article 339 of the Criminal Code, the fine for illegal collection of tulips can reach three thousand MCI (8,751,000 tenge). Also, for the failure of tulips, you can face correctional or community service and even restriction of freedom.

As the guide Vladimir Kolbintsev explains, in fact, tulips do not disappear, their habitats disappear under the influence of human activity (construction of cities, plowing of land, grazing).

“But even so, in the old deposits, where the plows at one time did not reach the depth of the bulbs, they return and even begin to occupy a dominant position, turning into pronounced “weeds”. This can be observed in the western foothills of Karatau near the village of Shayan, where the Greiga tulip behaves like this, ” the expert says.

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Greig’s tulip is the most common species throughout the country. It begins to please with its flowering at the end of March. The height of the stem is usually no more than 40 centimeters. The flower has a shape that resembles a glass or bowl, with three petals closed and three standing. The color palette of this tulip varies from deep red to orange.

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Greig’s tulip is protected by the state. It grows in the Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve, in the Berkara botanical reserve in the Zhambyl region and in the specialized Krasnaya Gorka nature reserve in the Turkestan region.

The undersized species-the Kaufman tulip-stands out for its bright colors. In most varieties, the petals are colored in two or three or more shades. The unusual, star-shaped shape of the flower is remembered by lovers of these flowers.

Through the efforts of breeders, about two hundred new varieties of this variety were bred, but in the wild, the Kaufman tulip is found only in the mountains of the Western Tien Shan (from the Ugam Ridge to the western part of the Kyrgyz Alatau) and Karatau.


You can enjoy the flowering of the Kaufman tulip from the end of March to the end of June in the low mountains, and until the beginning of July in the upper belts of the mountains.

The type of Albert’s tulip is listed in the Red Book. It is found only in the Syrdarya Karatau, the Chu-Ili Mountains, in the south of the Betpakdala desert, in the Chulak Mountains and along the banks of the Kapshagai reservoir. Blooms from the beginning of April to the end of the first decade of May.

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On a thick, bluish stem there are 3-5 leaves with fluted edges. And at the very top of the peduncle is a single goblet-shaped inflorescence. The color of the Albert tulip has a large range of colors-from a soft yellow to a rich red shade.

The Ostrovsky tulip grows on the slopes, among shrubs in the lower and middle belts, the southern part of the Chu-Ili Mountains and the eastern part of the Kyrgyz range. From late April to mid-May, you can enjoy this variety in the vicinity of Almaty.

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This species is listed in the Red Book. It is partially protected on the territory of the Almaty Nature Reserve.

The most unusual of the existing ones in nature is the Regel tulip. It usually has one oblong, less often – oval, glaucous, often with a brown tint leaf. The outer surface is similar to the structure of corrugated paper. The flower is usually single, small. It is very similar to the water lilies that grow on rivers.

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In the most metaphorical way, the flower grows literally through stones, on scree, rocky slopes and rocky ledges. This ancient relict species is also listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. It is found at the foot of the Chu-Ili Mountains. Blooms for a very short period of time – in late March – early April.

In sunny weather, the late tulip pleases with its appearance. It is so named because, unlike its brothers, it blooms from mid-April to mid-May. On a short, bare stem there are several leaves of a bright green color, with a purple border. The flowers are white, with a large yellow spot. The leaves themselves are sharp, up to 3-4 centimeters long.


The late tulip grows on stony and gravelly dry slopes, in thickets of bushes of the lower and middle belts of mountains. It is found in the western part of the Trans-Ili Alatau and the Zhetyzhol ridge-from the Uzun-Kargaly tract to the Karakunuz gorge.

Interesting fact

The tulip flower is subject to three-ray symmetry: it has three outer and three inner petals of the perianth, six stamens, the ovary is formed by three symmetrical lobes. That is, most varieties are perfectly symmetrical.

The flower of the Leman tulip is an elongated cup – shaped flower. It can be yellow, red or mottled, with a black-brown spot inside. The stem reaches a height of 50 centimeters. Each usually has four glaucous, curly, narrow leaves.

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Blooms in April. It grows in sandy and rocky deserts. In Kazakhstan, it is found in the Kyzylkum desert, less often in the Northern regions of Muyunkum and the southwestern part of Betpakdal (South Kazakhstan and Zhambyl regions).

If you find a bare stem up to 40 centimeters, with spaced, bluish, slightly wavy leaves on the edge, then this is a Schrenk tulip. The flower of its cup-shaped-lily type grows up to seven centimeters tall. Color – from pure white, yellow to reddish-maroon, lilac and almost purple, with a yellow or black spot in the center.

Blooms from the end of April to the end of May. It grows in steppes, deserts and semi-deserts, sometimes found in the gravelly plumes of low mountains.


How to get to the ” tulip carpets”

Knowing the places where certain types of tulips grow, you can get to them yourself during the flowering period. After all, they are available in the vicinity of almost any city. Also, tourists have the opportunity to use the services of a travel agency and go on an organized tour.

In the southern part of the country, you can admire the tulip fields near the Kapshagai reservoir or in the national park “Altyn-Emel”. From Almaty on the Almaty – Kapshagai highway, the flowers will meet at about the 120th kilometer.

You can also admire the tulips in the Altyn Emel National Park. You can get to the park on the Kapshagai highway and about 110 km from Almaty, you need to turn to the village of Shengeldy on the sign. Driving along the Kapshagai reservoir, first on an asphalt road and then on a dirt road, you will pass through the post, where you will be joined by the huntsman of the national park. Before traveling, it is advisable to obtain a permit to visit the national park. It is also better to book a room in one of the hotels in advance.


The abode of red book flowers is also the Almaty State Nature Reserve. It is located 25 kilometers from Almaty, in the southwestern part of Talgar district. It occupies the territory between the Talgar and Issyk rivers, and is surrounded on three sides by the Zailiy Alatau Mountains. You can get to Talgar by car or bus along the route. The central estate of the reserve is located in Talgar, in the Akku microdistrict.

In the Karaganda and Turkestan regions, you can get to the places of flowering in the Betpak-dala desert. They are located between Lake Balkhash and the Sarysu and Chu rivers. The nearest settlements are Kyzemshek, Zhuantobe, Akbakai, Priozersk. In the vicinity of these villages, you can definitely find the rarest varieties of tulips. And since the soil here is dry, clay and sandy, you will meet Albert’s tulips.


Despite the harsh climate and the late arrival of spring, tulips delight Kazakhstanis in the northern regions of our country – in the steppes from the Caspian region to the Eastern melkosopochnik, from the northern borders of Kazakhstan to the Balkhash line. The most common species here is the Schrenka tulip.

For example, from Nur-Sultan, you can get to the Egindikol district. Here grow whole fields of tulips. On the Karkaraly highway, you need to move towards the village of Kabanbay Batyr. Egindykol is connected by an asphalt highway with the cities of Nur-Sultan and Kokshetau.


In Kostanay region, you can get to the representative of bulbous plants by driving along the Auliekol highway for a couple of tens of kilometers. On the roadsides, bright fields can be seen from afar, tulips grow right by the roads. And if you turn off the main road on the field and drive into the steppe, you can drown in a sea of tulips.

In the western regions of Kazakhstan, near Uralsk, in the Terektinsky district, in the vicinity of the village of Dolinnoye and the village of Aksay, there are fields of tulips. Here you can find such varieties as drooping tulip, Schrenk’s tulip, Bieberstein’s tulip and two-flowered tulip.

The territory of the Kordai district of the Zhambyl region is covered with stony soil and rocky terrain. Here, tulips can be found in all the surroundings of local villages, as well as in the botanical reserve “Karakunuz Tract”. It is located 65 kilometers from the district center-Kordai, in the western spurs of the Trans-Ili Alatau. By the way, Kordai is located on the very border with Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, in advance you need to take care of a pass for driving to the border lane.

Sairam-Ugam National Park protects rare species of tulips. The local lands are covered with tulips of different colors and types. The park is located 70 kilometers from Shymkent, in the Tolebi district of South Kazakhstan region. You can get there by bus or car. On the highway from Shymkent in the direction of the city of Aksu, you need to get to the city of Langer. There, opposite the building of the military enlistment office, there is a cafe “Aisulu”, where the Center for Ecotourism and Ecosystem Monitoring is located. Here they will answer your questions and help you choose a route.


For passionate botanists and lovers of tulips, the Aksu-Zhabagli Nature Reserve will open colorful fields. For their sake, you will have to make a real journey with transfers and questions from local residents. The starting point to the reserve itself is the village of Zhabagly (Novonikolaevka). The locality itself is located in the Tulkubas district of the Turkestan region. From Almaty to Zhabagly – 600 kilometers, from Shymkent – 100. Getting by train from Almaty, you need to get off at the Tulkubas station. Here you will need to find a private or minibus taxi and drive another 18 kilometers.

If you want to go by bus, then take a ticket to the village of Akbiik. You will drive along the Almaty – Tashkent highway. From the village of Akbiik, for a nominal fee, take a passing car to Zhabagly. And don’t forget to ask the locals about other interesting places in this region.

From Shymkent, you can get to Zhabagly from the Aina market bus station. Minibuses and taxis make flights to this village.


Vladimir Kolbintsev works as a tour guide in South Kazakhstan. He says that tulips grow almost everywhere. In any urban or rural wilderness area. They bloom for a very short time, which does not fall on the most stable weather season of the year.

“It all depends on the weather. And if there is a blizzard or a downpour, and it is impossible to change the route, since all the hotels on the route are already booked, tickets for trains or planes have already been purchased – nothing can be done. How lucky! But in my practice, this did not happen very often, ” says the guide.

Vladimir says that during the tours, travelers are not allowed to pick tulips. After all, ” it doesn’t make any sense.” And the most important thing in the hunt for tulips, according to the guide, you need to be prepared for any weather-wind, rain and bright sun.

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