|Tulipa gesneriana in Bogdo-Baskunchak Nature Reserve, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia|
Tulipa gesneriana, also Didier's tulip or garden tulip, is a plant belonging to the family of Liliaceae. This tall, late-blooming species has a single blooming flower and linear or broadly lanceolate leaves. Of uncertain origin, like many tulips that came from the Ottoman Empire it could have originated in Turkey; it has now become naturalised in south-west Europe. Most of the cultivated forms of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana.
When the tulip originally arrived in Europe from the Ottoman Empire, its popularity soared quickly and it quickly became a status symbol for the newly wealthy merchants of the Dutch Golden Age. As a mosaic virus began to infect bulbs, producing rare and spectacular effects in the bloom but weakening and destroying the already limited number of bulbs, a speculative frenzy now known as tulip mania was triggered between 1634 and 1637. Bulbs were exchanged for land, livestock, and houses, and the Dutch created futures markets where contracts to buy bulbs at the end of the season were bought and sold. A single bulb, the Semper Augustus, fetched 6,000 florins in Haarlem - at that time, a florin could purchase a bushel of wheat.
The flower and bulb can cause dermatitis through the allergen, tuliposide A, even though the bulbs may be consumed with little ill-effect. The sweet-scented bisexual flowers appear during April and May. Bulbs are extremely resistant to frost, and can tolerate temperatures well below freezing - a period of low temperature is necessary to induce proper growth and flowering, triggered by an increase in sensitivity to the phytohormone auxin.
The bulbs may be dried and pulverised and added to cereals or flour.
- [Goldgar, Anne, Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age, University of Chicago Press, p. 322.
- Rietveld, Patrick L.; Wilkinson, Claire; Franssen, Hanneke M.; Balk, Peter A.; van der Plas, Linus H.W.; Weisbeek, Peter J.; de Boer, A. Douwe, "Low temperature sensing in tulip (Tulipa gesneriana L.) is mediated through an increased response to auxin", Journal of Experimental Botany, v.51, no. 344, March, 2000, p. 587-594.
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