Today kicks off our weekly “Fun Flower Fact Friday”! (Obnoxious?) I want to kick off this series with one of my favorite flowers, the Tulip! Tulips are so beautiful and can add so much movement in an arrangement. There are over 150 species of Tulips, and they have 3,000 different varieties!
A Brief History of Tulips
Tulips are a symbol of life, love, and immortality and date back to the time of Confucius. However, Tulips were actually first cultivated around the 10th century in Persia. In Holland, by the late 1600’s bulb prices often exceeded the price of precious metals and a single bulb is said to have sold for more than $2,000 (Can you imagine what a bouquet of tulips would have set you back)!
It is believed that the first tulips were brought to the United States between 1847 to 1865. It was during this time that Richard Sullivan Fay, Esq., settled the Faye Estate, located in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts. Mr. Faye imported all sorts of trees and plants from all over the world and planted them out on the meadows of his estate.
Currently, the Netherlands are the world’s main producer of commercial tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion (what!!!) bulbs annually, and the majority are for export.
Types of Tulips
As I mentioned before, there over 3,000 varieties of tulips! I know must of us have heard of French tulips (which are originally from France, but a hybrid that was developed in the United States!), but what are some of the other varieties that you may have seen at your local grocery or market and didn’t know the name?
This variety makes up the largest group of Tulips and offers the widest range of colors. They are somewhat daintier than the “Darwin Hybrids” (another Tulip variety that is very commonly seen in the United States) and offer more exquisite pastel-colored sheens.
These gorgeous tulips come in bold colors that are distinct to their variety. They are also almost perfectly symmetrical and are long-lasting semi double to double flowers. These varieties of tulips bear a striking resemblance to double Peonies (hmm... hmm... great substitute flower if double peonies are not within your floral budget).
Also known as “Crispa” tulips, Fringed tulips have become very popular. They are mutants (like the turtles) from various other groups so their heights and flowering periods can vary quite a bit. Typically, the bloom in mid to late spring. Their petals are edged with very finely cut fringes, and typically are the same color as the petals. However, some offer contrasting fringe color to the petals. The “Bell Song” variety has lovely coral flowers, yet the fringe tipping the pink petals is white. Another delightful variety is the “Cummins”, which offers beautiful lavender-purple petals on the outside and white on the inside AND brandish showy white fringe. A true spring show stopper if you’ve ever seen one!
French tulips are a hybrid that were developed by John Theodore Scheepers, a Dutchman who came to the United States in 1897. In 1930, Scheepers introduced this hybrid. French tulips are actually a variety of the Single Late Tulips (SLT), originating from the South of France but are now primarily grown in Holland and California. French tulips are highly sought after for their incredible height, strong stems and large, shapely flowers. Their bloom heads can be the size of a coffee cup!!
Parrot tulips are certainly a show stopper and offer a whimsical, romantic feel to any arrangement. The Parrot tulip is the most exotic of all tulips with their beautifully distinctive fringed and scalloped plumage with a sensational “feathered” appearance. All this texture gives the already large flowers even more volume. As a Parrot tulip’s blossoms mature, their petals can twist and turn giving each one their own “personality” and truly make each one their own work of art! Parrot tulips are the flashiest and most exotic of all tulips. Every blossom is a work of art!
I hope you learned something you didn’t know before about this amazing flower and perhaps even a new found love affair with them! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Remember to take some time to smell or just enjoy some flowers you may see on a walk or drive. Even though this blazing summer heat is upon us, I’m always amazed at the beauty that Texas roads offer with their summer wildflowers in full bloom. Until next time!