As this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge has the them of flowers, I thought it might be nice to share another flower image on this lovely Friday.
This particular image is a rather straightforward one that looks to simply highlight the main subject in an uncluttered manner; sometimes that is all it takes to get a pleasing image of a single flower, such as this tulip.
Of course, tulips are an interesting subject to anyone who grew up in the Netherlands. All of us are likely to connect the tulip to the Netherlands and the Tulip Mania of the 17th century when speculation drove the price of single tulip bulbs up to the equivalent of a herd of cattle and beyond. But did you know…
Cultivation of the tulip began in Persia, probably in the 10th century. Early cultivars must have emerged from hybridization in gardens from wild collected plants, which were then favored, possibly due to flower size or growth vigor. The tulip is not mentioned by any writer from antiquity, therefore it seems probable that tulips were introduced into Anatolia only with the advance of the Seljuks. In the Ottoman Empire, numerous types of tulips were cultivated and bred, and today, 14 species can still be found in Turkey. Tulips are mentioned by Omar Kayam and Celaleddin Rûmi.
In 1574, Sultan Selim II. ordered the Kadi of A‘azāz in Syria to send him 50,000 tulip bulbs. However, Harvey points out several problems with this source, and there is also the possibility that tulips and hyacinth (sümbüll, originally Indian spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi) have been confused. Sultan Selim also imported 300,000 bulbs of Kefe Lale (also known as Cafe-Lale, from the medieval name Kaffa, probably Tulipa schrenkii) from Kefe for his gardens in the Topkapı Sarayı in Istanbul. Sultan Ahmet III maintained famous tulip gardens in the summer highland pastures (Yayla) at Spil Dağı above the town of Manisa. They seem to have consisted of wild tulips. However, from the 14 tulip species known from Turkey, only four are considered to be of local origin, so wild tulips from Iran and Central Asia may have been brought into Turkey during the Seljuk and especially Ottoman periods. Sultan Ahmet also imported domestic tulip bulbs from the Netherlands.
The gardening book Revnak’ı Bostan (Beauty of the Garden) by Sahibül Reis ülhaç Ibrahim Ibn ülhaç Mehmet, written in 1660 does not mention the tulip at all, but contains advice on growing hyacinths and lilies. However, there is considerable confusion of terminology, and tulips may have been subsumed under hyacinth, a mistake several European botanists were to perpetuate. In 1515, the scholar Qasim from Herat in contrast had identified both wild and garden tulips (lale) as anemones (shaqayq al-nu’man), but described the crown imperial as laleh kakli.
In a Turkic text written before 1495, the Chagatay Husayn Bayqarah mentions tulips (lale). Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, also names tulips in the Baburnama. He may actually have introduced them from Afghanistan to the plains of India, as he did with other plants like melons and grapes.
In Moorish Andalus, a “Makedonian bulb” (basal al-maqdunis) or “bucket-Narcissus” (naryis qadusi) was cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens. It was supposed to have come from Alexandria and may have been Tulipa sylvestris, but the identification is not wholly secure.
Introduction to Western Europe
Although it is unknown who first brought the tulip to Northwestern Europe, the most widely accepted story is that it was Oghier Ghislain de Busbecq, an ambassador forEmperor Ferdinand I to Suleyman the Magnificent. According to a letter, he saw “an abundance of flowers everywhere; Narcissus, hyacinths and those in Turkish called Lale, much to our astonishment because it was almost midwinter, a season unfriendly to flowers.”
However, in 1559, an account by Conrad Gessner describes tulips flowering in Augsburg, Swabia in the garden of Councillor Heinrich Herwart. In Central and Northern Europe, tulip bulbs are generally removed from the ground in June and must be replanted by September for the winter. It is doubtful that Busbecq could have had the tulip bulbs harvested, shipped to Germany and replanted between March 1558 and Gessner’s description the following year. Pietro Andrea Mattioli illustrated a tulip in 1565 but identified it as a narcissus, however.
Carolus Clusius planted tulips at the Vienna Imperial Botanical Gardens in 1573. After he was appointed director of the Leiden University’s newly established Hortus Botanicus, he planted some of his tulip bulbs here in late 1593. Thus, 1594 is considered the date of the tulip’s first flowering in the Netherlands, despite reports of the cultivation of tulips in private gardens in Antwerp and Amsterdam two or three decades earlier. These tulips at Leiden would eventually lead to both the Tulip mania and the tulip industry in the Netherlands.
Carolus Clusius is largely responsible for the spread of tulip bulbs in the final years of the sixteenth century. He finished the first major work on tulips in 1592, and made note of the variations in colour. While a faculty member in the school of medicine at the University of Leiden, Clusius planted both a teaching garden and his private garden with tulips. In 1596 and 1598, over a hundred bulbs were stolen from his garden in a single raid.
Between 1634 and 1637, the enthusiasm for the new flowers triggered a speculative frenzy now known as the tulip mania. Tulip bulbs became so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency, or rather, as futures. Around this time, the ceramic tulipiere was devised for the display of cut flowers stem by stem. Vases and bouquets, usually including tulips, often appeared in Dutch still-life painting. To this day, tulips are associated with the Netherlands, and the cultivated forms of the tulip are often called “Dutch tulips.” The Netherlands have the world’s largest permanent display of tulips at the Keukenhof.
This image was captured using a Canon EOS 5D MkII using an EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. Exposure settings were at 1/125 second at f/6.3 and 400 ISO.