The Tulip and the Netherlands

Based on an original article by Ron Jeronimus

Native to the Himalayas, the tulip was revered and cultivated in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, where its image adorns the walls of many princely palaces and homes of wealthy merchants.  Carolus Clusius (or Charles de l’Ecluse), great botanist of the 17th century is considered to be one of the major importers of tulip to the west and especially to Holland.  This was the beginning of a great historical love between the Dutch and the tulip.  The horticultural planting and experimentation gave rise to new varieties of the flower. Ironically, many of the multicoloured varieties were due to a virus.   This virus could only exist in the bulbs and not in the seed and thus difficult to produce.  Exotic mutations were so coveted by the Dutch for their beauty, rarity and prestige to the point of becoming very expensive and therefore only available to the wealthy.
For a while in the 17th century, Holland was diagnosed with “tulip mania”.  During this period, a tulip bulb could reach the price of a year’s wages. A type of formal futures market was formed to enable trading out of season.   Many men created and lost fortunes in one of the earliest  “economic bubbles” in history.  The excitement and prices collapsed suddenly in February 1637.   Various theories and reasons have been put forward about the phenomena.

Today, the tulip is accessible to everyone.  The production, which began 400 years ago, has grown tremendously thanks to the good qualities of land and excellent growing conditions.  More than 5,600 varieties are listed in the official international name registry Tulips.

The black tulip?  Where are we?
Research continues to get as dark a flower possible to obtain the mystical tulip.  Currently there exists a very dark purple variety knows as Queen of the Night that looks black in low and indirect light.

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