Top 10 Tulip Facts - PMD Alliance

Learn more about this popular spring flower that has long been associated with the Parkinson’s community.

1. Tulips are native to Central Asia, but were cultivated in Istanbul, Turkey as early as 1055. They were later brought to Western Europe in the 1500s.

2. Tulips were known first in Turkey by the name “lale.” The name “tulip” became popular in Western countries around 1554, and likely comes from letters from an Austrian diplomat reporting the Hungarian word for the flower: “tulipan.” This term is thought to have been adopted from a reference to the tulip as a symbol of resurrection: “tala” meaning underworld and “pana” meaning deference.

6. The world’s largest tulip garden is the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands, which covers over 79 acres and has over 7 million tulips in bloom each year.

3. Tulips come in a variety of colors, but black tulips are one of the most sought after, though none of these plants are truly black. Black tulip varieties are usually a very dark purple or red color.

4. The rarest tulip varieties are those with stripes or multicolored petals because they tend to be the most difficult to cultivate or have the most specific growing conditions.

5. In the 1630s, tulip popularity and scarcity induced a small financial bubble in the Netherlands known as “Tulipmania,” focused primarily on striped or multicolor varieties of the flower bulbs. Their popularity and scarcity combined to result in one of these multicolor bulbs being of sufficient value to purchase a home at this time, though over-supply quickly led to falling value.

7. Unlike many flowers, tulips continue to grow in water after they are cut.

8. Both the bulb and petals of the tulip are edible, though the germ at the center of the bulb can cause intestinal issues and should be removed before consumption. Stems and leaves should also not be ingested.

9. The Netherlands has long dominated the tulip market, and in World War II, that saved many citizens from starvation. In 1944, attempts to disrupt Nazi troop movements resulted in a severe food supply shortage for the Dutch during a very cold winter. With few food crops but abundant tulip fields, the Dutch government developed recipes to utilize high calorie tulip bulbs to make soups, flour, coffee, and more.

10. Tulips have been associated with Parkinson disease since 1980, thanks to Dutch horticulturalist J.W.S. Van der Wereld, who was living with PD. He developed a new red and white variant of tulip and named the flower the James Parkinson tulip in honor of the doctor who first documented Parkinson’s symptoms in 1817. In 2005, the tulip was officially made the symbol of Parkinson’s at the 9th World Parkinson’s Disease Day Conference in Luxembourg.

Share your tulip photos and celebrate the Parkinson’s community!

Thanks to Supernus Pharmaceuticals, you have the opportunity to connect and express yourself through the World Parkinson Congress. The Parkinson Tulip Project (PTP) is designed to bring the Parkinson’s community together by collecting photos of people impacted by Parkinson’s with tulips, the official Parkinson’s flower. 

Photos of people from across the world will be displayed at the 6th World Parkinson Congress in the Parkinson Tulip Garden in Barcelona.  

April 2023 is the last month to submit a photo and win big prizes! 

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