As I promised yesterday, starting today and each Friday through Good Friday, I'll be bringing you Fun Flower Facts about a few of spring's most beloved flowers. I'm beginning this mini-series with the vibrant and happy tulip.
Here are ten weird and wonderful facts about tulips that you might not know.
1. The number of varieties. Tulips can be divided into about 150 various species, but there are more than 3,000 naturally occurring and genetically cultivated varieties of the flower worldwide. New varieties of tulips are regularly created, but it takes each one at least 20 years to go from the beginning stages of cultivation to your local florist's shop.
2. The symbolism of tulips. Tulips have a wide variety of meanings, with each color symbolizing something different. In general, tulips are said to symbolize love and signal spring's arrival. Red tulips represent true love, white tulips say "I'm sorry," and purple tulips symbolize royalty. Interestingly, a multi-colored bouquet of the blossoms is said to be a compliment of the recipient's eyes. The flower is also the symbol of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. A variety of tulip was actually named after James Parkinson, the doctor for which the degenerative disease is named. The foundation began using the flower in 1980.
3. The price of a flower. At one point in history, tulips were the most expensive flower. In fact, in the 1600s the flowers were more valuable than most people's homes, and cost almost 10 times what an average working-class man earned in a year. Wow! I'm so happy the price of tulips have come down...aren't you? It's hard for me to imagine the Easter season with loads of tulips brightening up my lily pad.
4. Perfect symmetry. Tulips are known for their bold colors and beautiful shape, and most varieties are indeed almost perfectly symmetrical. The blooms have three petals and three sepals, but since the sepals are almost the same size and shape as the petals, tulips appear to have six petals to a bulb.
5. Cook with tulips. Like many other flowers, tulips are edible! In fact, during World War II, tulips and tulip breads were often eaten by those who couldn't afford other foods. The flowers can be used to replace onions in many recipes and are even used to make wine. Really, tulip wine? Who knew?
6. Holland's export. When we think of tulips, we can't help but think of Holland. But did you know that the Netherlands are the largest producer and exporter of tulips worldwide? The grow and export nearly three billion bulbs each year! At one point in Holland's history, tulips were its fourth biggest export, behind cheese, gin and herring.
7. The meaning of a name. Tulips' shapes are what originally gave them their name. The name originated from the Persian word "delband," meaning turban. I always wondered about that. I kind of figured it wasn't because they looked like "two lips." So good to have the real reason.
8. The lily family. The beautiful flowers are actually related to another popular spring flower: the lily. Tulips are a part of the Liliaceae family, which also contains lilies, onions, garlic and asparagus. Onions, garlic, and asparagus? Okay, so now this is getting weird!
9. Tulip mania. During the 1600s when tulips were extremely valuable they caused what's now known as "Tulip Mania." People in the Netherlands traded tulips for their value, and the flowers actually ended up causing what some say is the first economic crash likely due, in actuality, to the bubonic plague.
10. Queen of the night. Tulips are known for their bright and sunny colors, and they have actually been cultivated in every color except for classic blue (blue tulips exist, but they have a purplish tint). One of the most interesting colors of a tulip variety is the deep purple of the Queen of the Night tulip. The flower is so dark it appears black in some lights and is quickly gaining popularity for its unique hue.
Tulips are bright and cheery and clearly remind us that spring has sprung. If you're looking for something to do this weekend, why not check out the tulips growing near you? But whatever your plans are, I hope you can spend a little time outdoors with family or friends. There's no season like spring to visit your your Mother....Mother Nature, that is!
Stay safe and please come back on Monday.