Tulips are among the most common flowers we see in parks and gardens in spring. They are also available as cut flowers in many stores, usually tied together in a bouquet. They form a genus with over 150 plant species.
Tulips grow from a bulb in the ground. Its stem is long and round. The green leaves are oblong and taper off to a point. Of the flowers, the large petals are the most noticeable. They wear the colors white, pink, red, violet to black, as well as yellow and orange or several of these colors.
Tulips can simply be left in the garden after they have bloomed. The parts of the plant above the ground then dry up and turn brown. If you pull them out too late, the bulb stays in the ground. A tulip will grow out of it next year. Usually, there are even several because the onions multiply in the ground.
Tulips originally grew in the steppes of Central Asia, in what is now Turkey, Greece, Algeria, Morocco, and southern Spain. The name comes from the Turkish and Persian languages and means turban. The people who came up with this German name probably felt reminded of the headgear of the people from this area by the tulips.
How do tulips reproduce?
The large onion with the flower is called the “mother onion”. As it blooms, small bulbs called “daughter bulbs” grow around it. If you just leave them in the ground, they will also produce flowers next year. This carpet then becomes denser and denser until the space becomes too narrow.
Clever gardeners dig up the bulbs when the herb has died. You can then separate the mother onion and the daughter onions and let them dry. They should be planted again in autumn so that they can form roots in winter. This type of tulip propagation is easy and every child can do it.
The second type of reproduction is done by insects, especially bees. They carry the pollen from the male stamens to the female stigma. After fertilization, the seeds develop in the pistil. The stamp becomes very thick. The seeds then fall to the ground. Small tulip bulbs will grow from this next year.
Humans sometimes intervene in this type of propagation. He carefully selects the male and female parts and pollinates them by hand. This is called “crossbreeding”, this is a method of breeding. This is how random or targeted new varieties in different colors are created. There are also curled tulips with jagged petals.
What was the tulip craze?
The first tulips came to Holland only after the year 1500. Only richer people had the money for it. First, they exchanged tulip bulbs with each other. They later asked for money. Special breeds also got special names, for example, “Admiral” or even “General”.
More and more people became crazy about tulips and their bulbs. As a result, prices rose sharply. The high point was in 1637. Three onions of the most expensive variety were once sold for 30,000 guilders. You could have bought the three most expensive houses in Amsterdam for that. Or to put it another way: 200 men would have had to work for a year for this amount.
Shortly thereafter, however, these prices collapsed. Many people became impoverished because they had paid so much money for their tulip bulbs but could never resell them for that amount. So your bet on ever higher prices didn’t work out.
There were already examples of goods becoming more and more expensive. One reason for this was that people bought the goods in the hope that they could later sell them at a higher price. This is called “speculation”. When it gets that extreme, it’s called a “bubble”.
There are many explanations today as to why tulip prices plummeted so suddenly. The scientists agree that a speculative bubble burst here for the first time in history and ruined many people. This was a turning point in the history of the economy.