Five fun facts about tulips

Five fun facts about tulips

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There is so much more to tulips than just their cheerful and brightening beauty. While many of us know what these bright flowers symbolize - deep love and springtime - few of us are aware of their history and the fun facts that surround their growth as one of the most popular flowers in the world today.

Well, worry about your ignorance no more! If you would like to increase your admiration for these pretty blooms the next time you find yourself grabbing a bunch from your florist, planting some of their bulbs in the autumn, or ordering some online as a token of love for a friend, read on to find out some amazing facts about tulips.

We’ve condensed the most interesting information about tulips – from tulip characteristics to where they got their interesting name – into these five, must-know, fun facts. Let’s get started!

What is a tulip?

No idea what flower we’re talking about? No worries, here’s a quick tulip description to get you up to speed on this popular springtime flower.

Available in a kaleidoscope of colors, these flowers are a spring-blooming member of the lily family. Typically large and showy with almost perfectly symmetrical petals, they are known for their bright coloring in shades of red, yellow, and pink. 

There are 15 different categories of tulips that are decided according to their flower shape and their flowering period. Some of these groups include: fringed, lily flowered, single flowered, double flowered, and parrot tulips.

Now we know a little bit about these plants, let’s dive into some more interesting facts about them.

1. A thousand different flowers

One fun fact about these plants is how many varieties exist in the world today. While we usually think that the only difference between the different kinds of blooms is their color, there are in fact roughly 150 various species of the flower. More than this, between the tulips growing organically in nature and those that are genetically cultivated, there are over 3,000 varieties of the flower in the world today.

And new varieties are constantly being created! This process takes place over many years, usually needing 20 years of development from the first steps of cultivation to the moment you see a new variety appear in a florist’s shop.

How many petals do tulips have?

One distinctive characteristic of tulips is the symmetry of their petals. Though the flower only technically has three petals, its sepals are often mistook for extra petals as they are the same size and shape. Thus, most flowers look as if they have six petals to a bulb.

2. Tulips aren’t actually from the Netherlands

Most of us associate this flower with the tulip fields of the Netherlands – the country that to this day remains the largest exporter of these blossoms in the world.

However, this flower actually originated in Central Asia and grew originally as a wildflower in the Tien Shan Mountains near the Russian-Chinese border. As they began to be cultivated in the Ottoman Empire they spread west where,  by 1000 A.D., sultans within the empire were growing impressive flower beds in parks and palace gardens that were filled with the bright and cheerful heads that are so distinctive of tulips.

3. A symbol of prosperity and abundance

During this period in the Ottoman empire, the tulip became a widely known symbol of wealth, prosperity, and abundance. So popular was this flower throughout the Ottoman Empire and so intrinsic was its association with the elite that the reign of Sultan Ahmed III’s rule was actually known as the ‘Tulip Era’.

The flower’s associations with wealth and prosperity would continue well into the 16th Century, as its influence and cultivation spread to Europe and most famously, to the Netherlands.

4. What’s in a name? How tulips got their title

Why are tulips called tulips? The history of how this flower got its name is an interesting fact! Tulips derived their name from their characteristic shape which was said to resemble that of the turbans then popular accessories in Persian culture. The name originates from the word ‘delband’, which is Persian for turban.

5. The world’s most expensive flower

Yes, tulips were not only the most expensive flower in the 1600s, they were even more expensive than many Dutch people’s homes. In the Netherlands, where tulip cultivation took off in the 16th Century, the flower’s popularity and value soared to such an extent that, at one time, their price was almost 10 times a working-class annual salary.

This led to the plants being traded for their value and a massive rush on their bulbs in the mid-1600s as wealthy speculators bought them up in the hopes of selling at a high price. However, this ultimately led to a devastating – and what many believe to be the first – economic crash.

This entire era is now known as “Tulip Mania”.

However, the Netherlands remains the world’s largest tulip producer, exporting 3 billion bulbs per year.  

And there you have it, five fun facts about tulips you can use to impress your florist! If this has only heightened your love of this cheery and colorful flower, get your tulip fix immediately by ordering a bouquet from an amazing flower delivery service like 1800Flowers, SendFlowers or FromYouFlowers

With kaleidoscopic arrangements, rare varieties, and affordable prices, you can pretend to be a Persian sultan or rich Dutch merchant from the luxury of your own home. Go on, indulge yourself!

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