Flower Facts

Parrot Tulips – The Feathered Flowers

Closeup on a Bouquet of Red Parrot Tulips Rococo

For the flowers most likely to be called extra, parrot tulips are definitely doing the most. Not quite as spectacularly bedazzled as every outfit Lizzo owns, these artful blooms are just as naturally stunning.

The ornately winged petals of parrot tulips look like organic flower sculptures. They blend bold colors into natural floral craftsmanship.

Why They’re Called Parrot Tulips

One of the earliest recorded mentions of parrot tulips comes from a 17th century text by the famous French engraver Nicolas Robert. He’s known for the scientific accuracy of his early botanical paintings. Robert called this new breed of tulips perroquet de trois couleurs, meaning a parrot of three colors. Whether he actually coined the name remains an enduring mystery.

Interestingly, historians and horticulturists can’t seem to agree on why they’re called parrot tulips. One school of thought believes it’s because of their feathered petals. Another believes it may be for the shape of their bloom which looks like a parrot’s beak. Maybe they’re named parrot tulips because of certain color combinations that are loud AF. Turn up the tulips.

Popular Parrot Tulips

  • Black Parrot

This fragrant, dark purple flower is the picture of elegance. Black parrot tulips create textured contrast with dark reds and purples.

  • Flaming Parrot

For a tulip that grows naturally in a bright ball of floral flame, this red and yellow multicolored flower is on fire. Not literally.

  • Tulips Rococo

These typically red tulips are named for the Rococo era of design. Rococo was a period of historic style known for scrolling filigree and gilded floral motifs.

  • Blue Parrot

This feathered tulip may not be blue, but its light violet radiance offsets darker solid colors with its naturally cooler hues.

Broken Tulips Evolved Naturally

Flower hybrids are intentionally farmed and cross-bred to make new varieties. However, there are also plants going through their own natural genetic adaptations all the time. For example, wildflowers like purple asters may change their own blooming schedule for survival.

These adaptable flowers adjust their opening season to a time when pollination is less competitive with other blooms. As a result, they have bees and butterflies all to themselves. Think of these behavioral changes like flowers waking up later in the morning to avoid heavy traffic.

Flowers may evolve to secure their own survival. Parrot tulips were born out of a mutation. The physical appearance of parrot tulips evolved genetically because of their exposure to the mosaic virus. Either in response to fighting off the virus or simply adapting to its influence, the flowers forever changed their appearance into the winged beauties we love.

At first, tulip growers were panicked, trying to make sense of the new color combinations. Surprisingly, the demand for parrot tulips grew rapidly, so growers shifted their focus toward growing them intentionally. Tulip farmers tried everything from throwing paint pigment into the flower beds to watering them with dirty dish water. It took hundreds of years for the world to identify the creation of parrot tulips as an mutation.

Color Mashups

If you’ve seen other plants with wild patterns that look like organic tie-dye it may not be due to a mineral deficiency. White spots or random splashes of red color on plants and flowers may be the result of something called variegation. Variegation is a natural adaptation that changes the appearance of flowers and plants.

Certain discolorations are due to poor cell formation causing the outer surface layer to have no color. Like their feathered edges, modern variegated or multi-colored tulips grew out of their natural defense against that aptly-named mosaic virus. This adaptation became a genetic part of the flowers, allowing generations of parrot tulips to be grown from the same bulbs.

Talking Parrot Tulip Facts

  • All tulips are in the Liliaceae or lily family.
  • Parrot tulips are easy to confuse with fringed tulips which have a frilly edge along the tops of the petals.
  • Parrot tulips enjoyed a spike in popularity when the stronger-stemmed fantasy parrot tulip variety was introduced in the 19th century.
  • Tulip bulbs and plants are toxic to cats and dogs, so display them beyond the reach of your beloved pet friends.

Polly Want A Tulip?

The popularity of parrot tulips is on the rise for their artful aesthetic. These flamboyant flowers command attention and add their own sense of wild style to your tablescape. Parrot tulips may just turn your favorite vase into floral couture. For a flower that looks like it’s ready to walk down the Met Gala red carpet, parrot tulips are always ready to make an entrance.

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