What is a tulip? The most famous flower in the Netherlands is the tulip. The word tulip derives from the Latin word ‘Tulipa’ and means: the flower that resembles a turban. Tulips were cultivated in the Middle Ages and traded in Turkey. Men wore turbans during the cultivation process, hence the name ‘Tulip’.
The tulip is a plant from the Lilly family and is a monocotyledon. This means the tulip only has one cotyledon (or embryonic leaf) per seed. Bulbs are planted in October and bloom between the end of March and the end of May. So it’s no surprise that tulips symbolise spring time!
So, contrary to what many people think, tulips do not originate from the Netherlands, but from Turkey. We’re talking about the year 1550, when Turkey was a powerful country. The garden of Turkish sultan Suleiman was actually full of tulips. At the time, they were flowers for society’s elite.
So how did the tulip end up in the Netherlands? This came about due to the Viennese ambassador to Turkey, who sent a few seeds to Austria. The first shipment of tulips arrived in Antwerp in 1562 and marked the start of tulip growing in Europe.