The tulip originated in Turkey and was named after the traditional tulip-shaped turban.
Sixty percent of the world’s bulbs come from the Netherlands and three-quarters of all global trade in flower bulbs passes through NL.
Export value of Dutch bulbs is approx. 600 million euros annually.
It takes 7-12 years to cultivate a flowering bulb from a seed. This slow growing process partly fuelled tulip mania in the 17th Century.
In the early 1600s tulip mania gripped the Dutch. Bulbs were traded for extortionate amounts of money. Often the bulbs were ‘virtual,’ passing from speculator to speculator, but never physically changing hands.
The much-coveted ‘broken’ variety (with striped petals) which fetched the highest prices during tulip mania were the result of a virus in the plant.
The world’s first economic bubble burst in February 1637 in Haarlem, possibly triggered by the outbreak of bubonic plague in the city.
Author Deborah Moggach wrote ‘Tulip Fever’ which will be released later this year as a film. I highly recommend this novel if you like your fact peppered with fiction!
In WWII, many Dutch citizens were forced to eat tulip bulbs during the famine of 1944. This period is known in Dutch as the hongerwinter. Usual food supplies were either blocked or diverted to Germany. Eighteen thousand people died of malnutrition during the exceptionally hard winter.
The Keukenhof attracts around 800,000 foreign visitors each year. You have till 17 May 2015 to visit this cornucopia of flowers covering 70 acres!