Botanical Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Related To: mariposa lilies, fritillary, toad lilies, trout lilies, Easter lilies
Born In: the wild 75 species of tulips originate in the Mediterranean basin, Middle East and the mountains of Western China, Pakistan and Afghanistan
Bred By: the sultans of the Ottoman Empire were the earliest tulip breeders, but it was the Dutch who famously bred and obsessed over tulips, a horticultural and cultural phenomenon instigated by the famous breeder Carolus Clusius in the late 16th century; to this day the Dutch are still the number one tulip-breeding country, exporting over 2 billion bulbs each year
All-Star Varieties: 'Purissima' (early-blooming fragrant white variety); 'Orange Cassini' (mid-season orange variety with apricot edges; 'Rococo' (a cardinal red, early parrot tulip)
Fun Fact: During the Dutch tulip craze of 1636 – 1637, the price of the most exotically colored bulbs reached 10 times the average annual wage of Dutch workers. Unfortunately, the striated color patterns of the tulips that caused the frenzy were the result of a virus (though this fact was not understood until two centuries later) and were not genetically viable enough for their propagation to continue.