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Image by thomas heintz


Tulip mania Then and Now

Image by Nicola Pavan

Tulips originated in the Tian Shan Mountains in central Asia. The plant then made its way to Turkey via the Silk Road and became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire. It was the Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius (1526–1609), who brought the tulip to the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, the first and now oldest academic garden in the Netherlands. Clusius observed the growth and blooming of tulips closely and was especially fascinated by the varieties with multicolored and feathered petals. Between 1633-1637, these showy tulips were so popular resulting in a rapid rice of the price of the bulbs. This soon led to an extraordinary episode of price inflation known as tulip mania. Tulips even began to be used as a form of currency. In 1633, actual properties were sold for handfuls of bulbs. Tulip mania, also called tulip wind trade, is seen as the first financial bubble that burst around 1637.  The collapse of the market didn’t diminish the Dutch interest in tulips. As for the striped and multicolored ones, it was discovered in 1931 it was caused by a virus and turned out to be transferred by aphids. These days, multicolored tulips are artificially bred to look that way. The Netherlands is the world’s largest commercial producer of tulips, with around three billion exported each year.

With the Tulip Mania Leiden we aim to unleash a new craze by having everyone enthusiastically look for the optimal soil for tulip growth! 

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