Tulips are one of my favorite flowers. I love their elegant lines, rich waxy colors and intriguing history. I also find great delight in the spring when winter’s snow and chill finally gives way to these early blooming beauties. Read below for an interesting overview of the beguiling tulip, an ephemeral flower that brought rich men to their knees.
1. Tulips are native to Central Asia. Although they are the quintessential Dutch flower, they actually originated in Central Asia, including Turkey, where the tulip is the national flower.
2. The English word tulip is derived from a Persian word, delband, which means turban. The flower was seen as turban-shaped, hence the name.
3. Tulips have been cultivated for over 500 years, starting at the point of origin, as noted above.
4. The tulip was likely introduced to Europeans in 1554 via a gift from the Ottoman Empire. A European Ambassador was gifted seeds and bulbs, which he then passed to Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and his royal botanist, Carolus Clusius.
5. Tulips once crashed an economy. In the 1600s when tulips where introduced to Holland, the waxy flower became so wildly popular that an economy of trading known as tulipmania burgeoned nearly overnight. At the peak of tulip mania, some single bulbs sold for more than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. Social status began to be measured by exotic tulips! Tulip mania was short-lived however, and when it crashed so did the fortunes of many Dutch. Many economists consider tulip mania to be the first speculative bubble.
6.The tulip was once the most expensive flower in the world. At one point during the height of Europe’s tulip mania, a single Viceroy tulip bulb was purchased for two lasts of wheat, four lasts of rye, four fat oxen, eight fat swine, 12 fat sheep, two hogsheads of wine, four casks of beer, two tons of butter, a complete bed, a suit of clothes and a silver drinking cup! In the winter of 1636-37, a valuable tulip bulb could change hands ten times in a day.