Glossary >> tulip
Tulips are plants of the genus Tulipa, in the lily family, Liliaceae. They are bulbous plants, grown for the very showy large flowers. There are around a hundred species, originating from the region from Turkey to the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains in Asia. Numerous forms have been bred for garden use.
The tulip is the national flower of Turkey, and tulip motifs feature prominently in Turkish folk arts. The first European cultivation of the tulip as a garden flower occurred in the Netherlands, where the early enthusiasm for the new flowers triggered a speculative frenzy now known as the tulipomania. The Netherlands and tulips are still associated with one another. The term 'Dutch tulips' is often used for the cultivated forms.
Tulips cannot be grown in tropical climates, as they require a cold winter season to grow successfully.
Some cultivated tulips have a striped or variegated flower, as in the illustration. This is primarily due to a viral infection of the bulb, so such striped varieties do not breed true from seed.
Random mutations often occur in the tulip bulb, creating new shades and variations in the flowers. These mutated bulbs used to be extremely valuable, as they could be used to establish a new line of tulips with a new and interesting colour.
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