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History of the Tulip

People see the tulip as a typical Dutch flower, but the tulip was originally a wild flower growing in the Central Asia. In 1593 the tulip was introduces in the Netherlands by a botanist named Carolus Clusius. He was working for the University of Leiden to research medicinal plants. From his friend (the ambassador of Constantinople/Istabul) he got some tulips bulbs. Historians say that Carolus Clusius was a selfish gardener. He was keeping his beloved tulips for himself and refused to sell or share them with anyone (despite many generous offers). So one day people broke into his garden and stole some of his bulbs and sold them. This was the start of the Dutch tulip trade.

Panaroma Tulipfields Keukenhof

Tulip mania

The tulip rapidly became a coveted luxury item and a status symbol. The development of a lively trade in tulip bulbs resulted in a wild speculation in tulips. The period of absurd speculation became known as "Tulip mania" It was especially during 1623 and 1637 that prices rose steeply. At the peak of "Tulip mania", a single bulb cost more than a house in the best parts of Amsterdam. The bottom fell out of the market during 1637, when a group of sellers could not get the prices they wanted and people everywhere suddenly came to their senses. Thousands of Dutch businessmen were ruined in less than two months.


Since the 1600s, tulip growing has been a major crop for this flat low country. Today nearly half of Holland's 47.150 acres of flower bulb farms are planted with tulip bulbs (23.412 acres). Every year about three billion tulip bulbs are produced in Holland. Of these, approximately two billion are exported and one billion remain in the Netherlands.

During the spring, the flowers in the bulb fields between Haarlem and Sassenheim (near Leiden) in the South Holland province are in bloom. Maybe less known but many tulipfields are also in the North Holland province. The season begins in March with crocuses, followed by the daffodil and the yellow narcissi. In April the hyacinths and tulips blossom until mid May. And later in August it is time for the gladioli.

Today there are more than 4,000 named varieties among 15 different categories. 
The categories are Single Early, Double Early, Triumph, Darwin Hybrid, Single Late, Lily-flowered, Fringed, Viridiflora, Rembrandt, Parrot, Double Late, Kaufmanniana, Fosteriana, Griegii and Wild Tulips. They are all different from one another in terms of time of blooming and flower shape.

The 15 categories

Single Early

single early tulips

As the name suggests, this tulip is the first one to bloom with cup shaped flowers.
Height: 30 cm
Flowering time: April 
Examples: Prinses Irene , Yokohama , Apricot Beauty

Double Early

double early tulips

The double early tulip has multiple petals and blooms very nicely.
Height: 25-30 cm
Flowering time: April 
Examples: Monte Carlo, Abba, Monsella

Triumph Tulips

Triumph tulips

The triumph is a cross between the early flowering singles and late flowering singles. Available a wide range of colors.
Height: 45 cm
Flowering time: April–May
Examples: Negrita, Leen v.d. Mark, Rosario, Washington , Don Quichotte , Happy Generation

Darwin Hybrid

darwin hybride tulips

The Darwin Hybrid is one tallest tulips and available in many colors, very suitable for hand-tied bouquets.
Height: 60 - 70 cm
Flowering time: April - May
Examples: Ad Rem, Apeldoorn, Daydream, Gudoshnik, Ollioules, Beauty of Apeldoorn, Golden Apeldoorn

Single Late Tulips

single late tulips

The Single Late is just like the Darwin Hybrid Tulip available in a wide variety of colors. 
Height: 50 - 60 cm
Flowering time: May
Examples: Queen of Night, Shirley, Esther

Lily-flowered Tulips

lily flowering tulips

Tulip with slim outward pointing petals, has some similarity with lilies.
Height: 55 cm
Flowering time: April–May
Examples: West Point, Mona Lisa, Maytime, Ballerina

Fringed Tulips

fringed tulips

As the name suggests, the edges of the petals are fringed.
Height: 50 cm
Flowering time: April–May 
Examples: Hamilton, Lambada

Viridiflora Tulips

viridiflora tulips

Most viridiflora tulips have petals with vertical green stripes.
Height: 55 cm
Flowering time: May
Examples: Groenland, Spring Green, Artist

Parrot Tulips

parrot tulips

The petals of the Parrot tulips are not straight. They are often curled or twisted. The size of the flower is also quite large.
Height: 55-60 cm
Flowering time: April–May
Examples: Estella Rijnveld, Orange Favourite, Texas Gold, Black Parrot, Flaming Parrot, Weber’s Parrot, Rococo.

Double Late Tulips

double late tulips

The Double Late tulips blooms quite late in spring but lasts a long time. They are absolutely beautiful, the double flower opens quite big and look like Peonies.
Height: 45 cm
Flowering time: May
Examples: Angelique, Blue Diamond, Mount Tacoma, Miranda

Kaufmanniana Tulips

kaufmaniana tulips

The Kaufmanniana is beautiful when it blooms. The petals open up completely into a beautiful flower under the sun.
Height: 15-20 cm
Flowering time: April 
Examples: Johann Strauss, Stresa

Fosteriana Tulips

fosteriana tulips

The Fosteriana is a cup-shaped flower on a strong stem. The petals are pointy in nature.
Height: 25-30 cm
Flowering time: April 
Examples: Juan, Madame Lefeber, Candela, Orange Emperor, Purissima

Greigii Tulips

greigii tulips

A six-petalled flower on a short, rigid stem with pointy petals . Available in various bright colors and often a combination of two colors.
Height: 15-20 cm
Flowering time: April 
Examples: Calypso, Roodkapje, Toronto, Pinocchio, Orange Elite

Wild Botanic Tulips

botanic wild tulips

Most of these tulips are short and ideal for garden planting.
Height: 10-15 cm
Flowering time: March-May
Examples: Tarda, Lilac Wonder, Little Princess

Rembrandt Tulips

Very famous type of tulip in the 1600's in The Netherlands (Sempre Augustus)is no more available. There are however tulips from other categories that resemble the original Rembrandt Tulips.
Height: variable
Flowering time: April–May
Examples: Mona Lisa, Olympic Flame