20 facts about tulips


Worth their own mania?

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.

1. Tulips belong to the same family as lillies, and are relatives of the family that includes onions.

2. Tulip cultivation originated in Central Asia a thousand years ago and was brought east by the Turks. The tulip is still a symbol associated with Turkey.

3. The word "tulip" is descended from a Persian word "dulband" -- which led to a Turkish word "tülbent" (turban, like the hat) -- which led to the Latin "tulipa".

4. Tulips were introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century. The first European tulip was described in 1559 in a Bavarian garden by a then-famous Swiss naturalist.

semper augustus tulip 17th century5. 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.

10. There are reportedly 3,000 varieties of tulips. There is a Dutch org that maintains the list of registered tulip varieties.

11. The most popular tulips are the red varieties. The most famous tulip is said to be "Queen of the Night" -- a tulip that is almost black (it's actually a very deep purple).

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


And here I thought the 'Orange Wonder' was chosen by the current Mayor.

"Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise. "

My general feelings on tulips are :p I am allergic to them, so much so that I'm lying on my floor trying so hard to breathe through my poor, sad, swollen sinuses.

But it is nice to drive through the park and see their color!

...And once cut and placed in water ,the tulip stem continues to grow!

Very interesting facts! I love tulips so much and I have such a big collection that can do "Tulips Festival" at my garden! :)

Years ago while in the Netherlands around Easter, we saw the rows and rows of beautiful tulips but the fascinating thing was that there were lots of people working to harvest the petals. They were piled between the rows into a huge pile. We were so fascinated we pulled the car over and just sat and watched. It appeared to us that they may have wanted the petals for maybe medicine or cosmetics or some other commercial purpose. I can't imagine that many people working and carefully piling the petals and then hauling them away on a little trailor unless there was money in it, but we've never learned what they did with them.

Having cut the dead flower from the stem, will it flower again.

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