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Flower Facts: All About Tulips

Flower Facts: All About Tulips

posted: 2020-11-30 17:00:00 +0800

"The murmur of a cool stream / bird song, ripe fruit in plenty / bright multicoloured tulips and fragrant roses..."
-Gulistan by Musharrifu'd-din Saadi

Tulips, the luscious and soft bulb flowers that grow in a variety of vibrant, fringed, and pastel colours with a sweet and fresh fragrance, it is no wonder that the tulip is everyone’s favourite spring flower. Growing in a cup or star shape, its flowers are generally large and mostly symmetrical, making for an extremely aesthetically pleasing flower. Whether grown or cut, tulips are beloved for their sturdy simplicity and colours. Give Gift Boutique Hong Kong has gathered all the interesting facts and history on the beloved tulip.

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Tulipa

The tulip has more than 50 species but within that, there are more than 3,000 naturally occurring and genetically cultivated varieties of the flower as well. Further, the tulip is member of the lily family, Liliaceae.

Tulips are geophytes, meaning that they grow from winter-resistant bulbs that allow them to survive in dormancy during the colder months to then bloom again during the spring. A tulip bulb looks similar to an onion, though it is not recommended that the bulbs be eaten due possible unknown toxicities, even though the flower petals themselves are highly edible. Tulips can also be grown from seeds or micropropagation but require a substantial amount of time (1-8 years) before it reaches flowering size with these methods.

Most tulips are also perennials meaning that they generally grow back from the same bulb every year and depending on species, most tulips grow between 10-70 cm in height. Further, tulips are hermaphrodites, making it easy for the flowers to be pollinated.

Wild tulips thrive best in mountainous areas with temperate climates and are most often found in meadows and steppes but can also be found in fields, orchards, roadsides and more.

Origins and Naming

Tulips are native to Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean. They grew wild among the Tian Shan Mountains and were first cultivated in Istanbul in 1055.

There is speculation about the origins of the tulip’s name, but it is believed to have been derived from the word turban due to the flower’s distinct shape. It is also possible that its name came about from an error in translation, as it was popular during the Ottoman Empire to wear tulips on turbans.

*Ottoman Turkish: tülbend ("muslin" or "gauze")

*Persian: دلبند‎  delband ("turban")

Tulip then likely made its way into English as tulipa either through French, tulipe or tulipan or possibly through Latin, tulipa.  

Tulip History

While tulips have been cultivated since the 10th century it found its fame beginning in the 15th century where tulips became the symbol of the Ottoman Empire and were considered one the most prized flowers. Once the tulip reached Europe, somewhere in the late 16th century, they spread rapidly and became a popular commodity.

By the 17th century, between 1634 and 1637, tulip mania or fever had taken hold in the Netherlands. The tulip became so immensely popular and expensive that they were used as a form of currency and caused the collapse of Netherland’s market. One variety of tulip, the Semper Augustus, was so rare and valuable that it cost as much as a house before the market collapsed.