History of the Tulip

Tulips, now a common flower, weren’t seen until 1554 by Augier Ghislain de Busbecq, the Viennese ambassador of Turkey. While the tulips were originally from Persia and Asia Minor, de Busbecq sent seeds to a friend in Europe – a renowned botanist named Clusius – who sent them on to the Netherlands, where they would eventually become an important part of their culture.

Soon, a craze for the vividly colored flowers began as people wanted more tulips than were supplied. Prices of the rare varieties rose to new heights as people desired the delicate flowers in their gardens. In 1610, a single tulip bulb was acceptable as a dowry for a bride, and a flourishing brewery in France was even exchanged for one tulip bulb.

Between 1633 and 1637, the craze reached new heights in Holland as people began gambling for rare varieties of tulips – specifically with irregular patches or streaks of red, pink, purple, white or yellow flowers, sometimes even marbled. What started out in professional gardens began to ween into middle and lower class society as everyone wanted a part of the hobby. Homes were mortgaged and savings were invested into the tulip market, sometimes for bulbs that didn’t even leave the ground.

The crash came in 1637 as people became worried about the increasing prices, and the states of Holland decided to shut down the excessive selling. Fortunes were lost, but the high standard for cultivation was kept in Holland, where in the spring one can visit the Dutch bulb nurseries filled with beautiful forms and colors of tulips.

Now, tulips consist of over 100 species, mainly native from Europe and Asia, and are considered one of the most popular garden flowers.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Tulip.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 3 May 2019, http://www.britannica.com/plant/tulip.

A Small History of the Tulip in Holland.” Holland History, HollandHistory.net, 2007, hollandhistory.net/history_of_holland/small-history-of-the-tulip-in-holland.html.

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