Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

The Red Tulip: The International Symbol for Parkinson’s

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EPDA tulip

Perhaps you may have noticed that many organisations that are associated with Parkinson’s use a tulip as their symbol. The European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA), an umbrella organisation to which many of the national organisations and charities (including Parkinson’s UK) belong, uses a red tulip as its symbol. Parkinson’s UK itself does not use a tulip, although it did, in its previous incarnation as The Parkinson’s Disease Society, produce a tea towel featuring tulips (illustrated below left).

The ‘PD Tulip’ (shown above centre) is another example, this time in the United States. There is a campaign to get this symbol formally adopted in the US, and it seems to have a lot of support. This clever design, which makes use of the letters ‘P’ and ‘D’ as the leaves, was designed by a woman with Parkinson’s.

Why a Tulip?

The story behind the adoption of the tulip as a symbol for Parkinson’s is related on the EPDA Web site. In 1980, a Dutch horticulturalist, who had Parkinson’s, developed a new cultivar of tulip and named it after Dr. James Parkinson, the English doctor who originally described the condition.

Tulipa ‘Doctor James Parkinson’ (pictured above right) is a red and white tulip (although, to my eye, it is a very pinky sort of red). The following description is given on the EPDA site:

“Exterior, glowing cardinal red, small feathered white edge, outer base whitish; inside, currant-red to turkey-red, broad feathered white edge, anthers pale yellow.”

The tulip can be purchased from the Gee Tee Bulb Company in Lincolnshire, UK, with a donation made to Parkinson’s UK. From the Parkinson’s UK site:

Buy ‘Dr James Parkinson Tulips‘ from the Gee Tee Bulb Company in Lincolnshire and they will donate at least 30% of your order value to us [Parkinson’s UK].

Prices are: 25 tulips for £10; 50 for £17 and 100 for £30. Call them on 01205 260412 or email to place your order (unfortunately they can’t be ordered online).

NB all orders are despatched from October through to December (in time for the planting season, November to December).

Prices and other details copied today, 04 April 2011. Please visit the Parkinson’s UK site to confirm details.


One thought on “The Red Tulip: The International Symbol for Parkinson’s

  1. I was recently involved in a focus group with Parkinson’s UK where we looked at pin badge designs. One of them was a very clever take on the tulip idea… but it might be a while before it sees the light of day. I hope it does, because it was a very graphically appealing design, with an awful lot of subtext for something that was basically very simple.

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