The History of Tulips

The history of tulips may surprise you

The history of tulips may surprise you

Tulips are beautiful.  In fact, many people plant them in their gardens and enjoy having bouquets of tulips on their tables.  But most people don’t know the interesting history behind this flower.

Originally, the tulip was a wild flower that grew in central Asia.  The Turks were the first people to start cultivating it around 1000 AD.  They planted tulips in their palace gardens.  In the 17th century, biologist Carolus Clusius brought tulips home with him, introducing the flower to Europe.  He named it “tulip” after the Turkish word for turban. 

The tulip soon became popular with gardeners, especially in Holland.  The first bulbs sold for incredibly high prices, especially once botanists started to hybridize the flowers to create different colors.  These hybrids were so expensive that in some places they sold for more than a home in Amsterdam.  Eventually, of course, the growing availability of tulips drove the price down, but they remained incredibly popular among all people.

One very interesting fact was discovered in the 20th century.  The amazing flame colors and the frilly petals that made tulips so popular were actually caused by a virus!  These brilliant tulips were infected by the mosaic virus.  A healthy tulip is actually solid and monotone.  Today, diseased tulips are not sold.  Instead, the tulips most people grow are hybrid plants that have the amazing looks without the virus.

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