They're all over the Capital Region. We even have a festival for them (you may have heard).
So, here are 20 facts about tulips.
5. The father of the Dutch obsession with tulips was botanist Carolus Clusius -- he's said to have popularized the flowers there. He was also the first to identify "broken tulips" -- a viral infection that caused beautiful streaking in the petals of the flowers.
6. Clusius' efforts created many new color variations of tulips, some of which became much sought after.
7. The demand for tulips set off "tulip mania" in the Netherlands around 1637, and prices for some varieties soared. The tulip depicted to the right -- the "Semper Augustus" -- was said to be the most expensive tulip during this period. The situation has been regarded as one of the first economic bubbles.
8. Clusius reportedly considered all the tulip hubbub distasteful and refused to sell his bulbs to speculators -- so people stole them.
9. The "mania" was hyped in a popular 1641 book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which was the definitive account for centuries. But a book published a few years ago -- Tulipmania by Anne Goldgar -- debunked many of the claims, and reported that the mania was actually much more limited and subdued.
12. The variegated tulips seen today (the ones with streaks) have almost always been bred to look like that -- and are not the result of the tulip break virus.
13. Tulips should be planted in the fall.
14. Tulips require vernalization to bloom. That is, the bulbs need a prolonged period of cold before they'll flower.
15. Tulip bulbs can be "forced" into blooming by storing them in a cold place for 12-16 weeks -- even the refrigerator.
16. Tulips are edible -- or, at least, parts of them are. The petals are said to range in taste from "a mild bean-like taste, to a lettuce-like taste, to no taste at all." (You should never eat petals that have been treated with chemicals.)
17. During WWII, some people in the Netherlands were forced to eat tulips because there wasn't any other food. "Bread made from tulips is not very good ... like wet sawdust" according to a Dutch man who grew up on a tulip farm during the war. (Also, part of the bulb is poisonous, apparently.)
18. There are a bunch of recipes that use tulip petals: as cups for mousse, accents for tuna, for salad dressing, and little dishes for appetizers. There's even a recipe for tulip wine, which is apparently "a lovely white".
19. The City of Albany plants more than 200,000 bulbs each year.
20. The "Orange Wonder" is Albany's official tulip -- as selected by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands at the request of mayor Erastus Corning II.
image via Wikipedia
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