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“Tulip Universe” is photographer Marques Vickers visual survey of the cup shaped flower often popularly misunderstood and underestimated for its beauty. His pictorial edition features over 110 images of this exotic flower capturing the diversity of colors and complexity of design.

From the Preface by Linda L. Allen:

Tulips are generally perceived as a simple, sweet flower.  In truth, there are over 3,000 varieties that include every color other than blue and have a history as fascinating as the most glorious rose or exotic orchid.

The tulip is commonly thought to have originated in the Netherlands – in particular Holland.   Cultivation actually began in Central Asia over a thousand years ago and was later brought East by the Turks.  In the mid 1600’s they were introduced to Europe.

In an unusual twist the Dutch obsession was fueled, in part, by a virus that caused broken tulips.  The disease, identified by the botanist Carolus Clusius, caused gorgeous striations within flower’s color.  Tulip Mania was rampant and the price of bulbs soared.  At its height, some bulbs sold for 10 times an average workingman’s yearly salary and cost more than most homes.  Speculation on future crops earned tulips the dubious distinction of having caused the first investment bubble.  Although opinions differ and there is no recorded history, it is generally accepted that the resulting market crash had a catastrophic effect on the country’s economy.

The spring-blooming tulips are members of the Liliaceae family, which includes asparagus, aloe, garlic, onions, and wide diversity of flowers. Their height varies from less than 8 inches to 2 feet and may bloom from 1 to 3 weeks although their bloom time is usually limited to 1 – 7 days.  Commonly there is one flower per stem but some varieties have up to 4.  There may be from 2 – 12 leaves. While many have no scent, some are known for their beautiful scent.

Most varieties of tulips are almost perfectly symmetrical.  It appears that the flower possesses 6 petals.  Actually, they have 3 petals and 3 sepals.  Since the sepals and petals are almost the same size and shape, the common misconception was developed.


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