The History of the Tulip

Posted on January 23, 2021 by Andrea Forsberg

Why Tulips Are the Perfect Midwinter Gift

The holiday season is over, and spring’s arrival is still off in the distance. This is the perfect time for an arrangement of fresh tulips. Tulips, long considered a symbol of perfect love, add a much-needed burst of color during the winter season. Tulips have been a favorite flower of societies in both Central Asia and Western Europe since the 11th century. Today they continue to be a favorite of florists and gardeners everywhere. The following is a brief history of this beloved flower.


Early History


Tulips, first mentioned in an 11th-century poem by Omar Khayyam, originated in Central Asia as a wildflower. Cultivation of the flower began in the Ottoman Empire around 1000 AD, where it played a central role in Turkey’s art and culture. The tulip motif was displayed prominently in homes and palaces across Turkey, where it was featured on coffee sets, tiles, and rugs, as well as clothing and armor. Sultan Ahmet III was known for his obsession with tulips, including nightly tulip parties during the tulip season, which featured thousands of colorful tulips, and guests adorned in matching colors. Turkish noblemen often wore turbans, or tulipans, adorned with a single tulip, and many Europeans associated the flower with these tulipans. This is how the flower took on the name tulip.


Tulips in Western Europe


Tulips came to Western Europe and the Netherlands during the 16th century, likely via Carolus Clusius, director of Europe’s oldest botanical garden. The ambassador of Constantinople gave Clusius some bulbs, which he planted in his garden. These bulbs became the foundation of the acres of colorful tulips found in the Netherlands today. The Dutch Golden Age saw the rise of tulips for use in decorative gardening, and the plant began to be highly prized as a symbol of wealth and social status




The tulip became a heavily traded and speculated commodity by the Dutch, with some bulbs becoming more valuable than a home. This economic speculation eventually led to what is considered the first speculative economic bubble, Tulipomania. In 1637, the subsequent crash of the tulip market caused widespread bankruptcy and financial loss. Although the event achieved notoriety, it did not cause economic problems for the country or damage the tulip trade.


Current Tulip Varieties


Today, there are over 3,000 registered varieties of tulips. During the 20th century, it was discovered that tulips petals featuring flames of colors and petals that were frilly rather than smooth were actually due to a mosaic virus infection. Botanists eventually were able to develop a stable variant of the flower. The following are a few of the more popular types of tulips:


  • Single—early and late varieties are known for single petals. The early blooming ones feature a distinctive cup shape.


  • Double—early and late blooming varieties. These multi-layered blooms are also known as peony tulips.


  • Fringed—“Crispa” tulips are easily identified by their fringed edges, giving them a frilly appearance. They are available in pink, white, violet, and red, among other colors. The fringe is often in a contrasting color.


  • Darwin Hybrid—These pyramid-shaped tulips are known for their spectacular bold petals and are available in a range of gorgeous shades of red and orange.


  • Rembrandt—This variety of tulip is adorned with deep purple or red flames and was named for the Dutch painter.


Tulips are the perfect flower to brighten the day of a dear friend, a parent, that one person who makes your day brighter just by being there, or show yourself a little self-love with a bouquet.

Flower Works is featuring 10 tulips, cash & go for $9.50 + tax. Stop by, or Contact us at (906) 273-1335 for other available tulip arrangements.

Posted in Appreciation., Flowers, Happy, Spring, Tulipmania, Tulips