A beautiful flower, with a surprisingly exciting history. The question “where do tulips come from” has actually been asked enough to have a whole field of literature written about it. There are two main answers, depending on the specific question. If you are asking “where do tulips come from originally?” the short answer is Turkey and Central Asia.
However, the more common query of “where do tulip bulbs come from?” points to the Netherlands, with the Dutch supplying two billion cut tulips annually, nearly 80% of the world market. Starting from its history, we can trace the tulip by following the major events associated with the flower.
- Native to Central Asia and Turkey.
- Cultivation probably began around the 10th
- They became extremely popular in the 16th century in Turkey.
- In the 1590’s the first tulip bulbs are cultivated in the Netherlands.
- The 1620s and 1630s in Holland see the boom of Tulipomania.
- 1730, the end of the Tulip Era in Turkey.
- First arrival of tulips in the USA with Dutch settlers in late 17th
Where Do Tulips Come From Originally?
As with any question of origin, the answer to where tulips come from is quite long and complicated. Taxonomically, the tulip flower is a member of the lily (Liliaceae family) and its genus itself contains around 75 species. Due to this, there is actually a huge swathe of land where it could be said that the tulip comes from originally.
Its natural environments stretch from modern-day Turkey right across Central Asia, as well as including parts of Southern Europe.
Thus, it was the Ottoman Empire based around Turkey, the Middle East and Arabia which became the first to significantly cultivate tulips and make them part of their culture. In fact, the name tulip itself comes from the Persian word for turban. It was the style in the 15th and 16th century for fashionable Ottoman officials to wear a tulip in their turban, but when foreign diplomats asked about the flower, they were given the name of the garment, a tulben, instead, thus reporting back to Europe that that was the name of the plant.
Where Do Tulips Come From Now?
Though they had been noted around Europe from the middle of the 16th century, it was when they arrived in the Netherlands that they found their true home. The amazingly flat and fertile lowlands of the area proved to be perfect for growing the flowers, but what made a similar difference was the growing middle class of Dutch society, which took heartily to the fantastic coloring and natural variation of the flower.
The tulip became the ultimate fashion must-have in Dutch society, with buyers throwing crazy money at simple bulbs, with one report saying that over $2,000, with a carriage and a horse thrown into the bargain, was given for a particularly rare Rembrandt bulb. The price frenzy was fueled by rampant speculation and like all bubbles, an idea that prices would only ever keep rising. So, to many, it made sense to mortgage their houses to buy a handful of flower bulbs, except that’s not how bubbles work and eventually they all have to pop.
That’s what happened in 1637 when the Tulipomania bubble crashed and many rich merchants were all of a sudden broke. The mania, price-rises and curious product at the heart of the craze have meant that it is commonly cited and written about by financial authors.
Despite the crash, the seeds (or bulbs) had been sown and Holland’s love affair with the tulip was irreversible, setting it out as the number one destination for tulips in the world.
Where Are My Tulips From?
If you are buying tulips, either as cut flowers or as bulbs to grow yourself, they will more than likely have originated in the Netherlands. The country produces about nine billion bulbs a year and is by far the biggest exporter to the USA.
Thankfully these beautiful flowers are not nearly as expensive as they once were, but still, have the same bright colors and delicate petals that made them such a hit with big-money investors in the Middle Ages.
However, if you like to have tulips in your life, Bouqs has the answers. Our nationwide team of florists are experts at creating boutique Bouqs that make the most of everything the beautiful tulip has to offer. Get in touch with our team or check out our fantastic tulip bouquet designs to see what suits your style best. We can also help you care for your tulips and let you know how you maximize the vase-life of your tulips.Shop All