Skip to main content

Tulips come in many shapes and colours, and to me, they represent one of the main flowers of Spring. Once the tulips are open, delighting us with their brief burst of coloured glory, the plants in the garden really seem to pick up the pace. The origins of the modern tulip are obscure, but seem to lie inside the Ottoman Empire. Certainly, the cultivating of tulips rapidly spread throughout Europe, as gardeners found this hardy perennial (certainly the bulbs are frost-resistant) of the family Liliaceae easy to cultivate and most attractive.

The tulip is a forb, that is, a non-woody plant that is not a grass! There are many different cultivars and strains of tulip, but the modern, commercially grown flowers can all be said to descend from Tulip gesneriana, sometimes known as ‘Didier’s Tulip’. The fantastic streaks and markings seen on flowers, are due in modern strains to careful breeding and genetic selection, but in the 16th and 17th centuries these markings were caused by a type of mosaic virus, the Tulip Breaking Virus, whose vector was the Green Peach Aphid (Myzus persicae). This aphid caused extreme damage to various commercial crops, not just peaches, as it carries many other viruses, including the Potato Leaf Roll Virus.

Tulips were the root cause of one of the most unusual economic ‘bubbles’ in history. They were widely grown in the Netherlands, and by early 17th century had assumed a major economic role. Speculation and trading grew apace, until in the period 1634 -1637 the so-called ‘Tulip Mania’ took hold. At its height a single bulb of one of the virally-damaged, exotic coloured bulbs sold for more than the equivalent of three years wages of a skilled worker! Needless to say, there was a huge market crash, and merchants were left holding now-worthless stocks of bulbs. This was the first recorded example of a speculative, economic bubble. Set in Holland some years after the ‘Tulip Mania’, the 1937 film ‘The Black Tulip’  (based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, the French author of ‘The Three Musketeers’) gives an excellent view of the obsession with the search for a truly black tulip. Modern gardeners are actually coming close to this ideal; the variety ‘Queen of the Night’ is actually a very deep purple, but it is certainly close. Today, tulip festivals are held in many places in Europe; in Holland, of course, but also in Spalding in Lincolnshire, where thousands of acres are devoted to the growing of bulbs of many kinds. The Spalding Flower Parade features spectacular floats decorated with tens of thousands of tulips, and is held in April each year.

These striking red tulips are in my brother Michael’s garden in Wales, and they remind me of our childhood in Derbyshire!

http://peoplesmosquito.org.uk

http://shortfinals.wordpress.com

Originally posted to History for Kossacks on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:06 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site