Tulips, a symbol of Holland. The Netherlands is the world’s largest commercial producer of tulips, exporting around three billion each year. But tulips have a rich history, going back far beyond their first bloom in Holland.
Here are 10 interesting facts you may not know about the beautiful flower.
- There are over 150 species of tulips, with over 3,000 naturally occurring and genetically cultivated varieties. New varieties are still being created, but it takes at least 20 years of cultivation before you will find them in your local florist’s shop.
- Tulips are native to central Asia. It wasn’t until 1594 that the first tulip ‘officially’ bloomed in Holland after the Flemish botanist, Carolus Clusius, director of Leiden University’s new Hortus Botanicus, planted some of his own tulip bulbs.
- The name ‘Tulip’ originated from the Persian word ‘delband’ meaning turban, given the flowers turban shape. Another reason for its association with Turkey is because locals would often decorate their turbans with tulip stems.
- Tulips are related to another popular spring flower, the lily. They are part of the Liliaceae family, as are lilies, onions, garlic and asparagus (another Dutch favourite).
- At one point in history, tulips were the most expensive flower in the world. Between 1634 and 1637 it is said tulips cost almost 10 times what an average working-class man earned in a year; this time period was known as “Tulip Mania”.
- Currently tulips are the third most popular flower in the world, with roses coming in first and chrysanthemums coming in second. On Valentine’s Day the tulip is the second most gifted flower (after of course the rose).
- Tulips will only bloom naturally for 3-7 days in spring. If you trim the stems of your freshly cut tulips, they will continue to grow in your vase for at least another inch.
- Most tulips have one flower per stem. However there are some species that have up to 4 flowers per stem.
- Tulips are usually sweetly scented and, depending on the variety, they can grow from a few inches to over two feet tall. They are also available in every colour of the rainbow with the exception that there are no pure blue varieties.
- Tulips are edible! During World War II, tulips were often eaten by those who couldn’t afford other foods. The flowers can be used to replace onions in many recipes, and they can even be made into wine.