The Tulip is the national flower of Turkey, Netherlands / Holland and Hungary.
In the 16th century tulips were imported to Holland from the Ottoman Empire or present day Turkey. Tulips are named after the Persian word for turban, as they resemble a turban when in full bloom. The first tulips were brought to The Netherlands from Turkey in the 16th century.
The Netherlands became newly independent from Spain and Dutch merchants grew rich on trade through the Dutch East India Company. With money to spend, art and exotica became fashionable collectors items. This was when Dutch became fascinated with rare “broken” tulips, bulbs that produced striped and speckled flowers.
Just a few years after arriving in Holland, tulips became the most sought-after commodity in the entire Netherlands. Shortly after Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book about the flower, Tulips were worth more than gold and at the height of the market, the rarest bulbs were worth six times a person's annual salary.
In the months of late 1636 to early 1637 there was complete Tulipomania in the Netherlands. Some bulbs cost more than a house in Amsterdam at the time. There was an inevitable crash in prices in 1637, when people stopped purchasing the bulbs at such high prices. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, interest in the tulip remained, but the Dutch became the true connoisseurs and stockists.
In the 20th century it was discovered that the frilly petals and dramatic flames that gave some varieties their stunning look, were in fact the symptoms of an infection by the mosaic virus. The healthy flowers were supposed to be solid, smooth and monotone.
The trusty Tulip is arguably the most cross-bred and hybridised of all of the traditional spring flowering bulbs. Today there are thousands of recognised varieties. Tulip flowers may be single, double, ruffled, fringed, or lily-shaped, depending on the variety.
The Netherlands is the largest producer of tulip bulbs in the world, providing 4.2 billion annually and exporting half. Its long spring season with cool nights makes the Netherlands the perfect country for tulip growing. The soil is continuously drained, creating perfect growing conditions for tulip bulbs, which love well drained but moist soil. Today, roughly 60% of the country’s land is used for agriculture or horticulture, with much of that land dedicated to growing bulbs. And it’s a good thing because in 2014 the Netherlands exported more than 2 billion tulips worldwide. Holland maintains 44% of the worldwide trade in floricultural product and 77% of all flower bulbs come out of the Netherlands, most of which are tulips.
Tulips are symbolic of perfect love, and this association comes from the Turkish / Persian folktales about the love between Farhad and Shirin.