Tulip flower meaning : The Ultimate Guide

In this Tulip flower meaning we will get in depth with its symbolic meaning, colour meaning, history and uses.

The Tulip flower is perhaps the only other flower that can rival with the Rose when it comes to love. This flower has a deep and rich history which reflects this.

A favourite of the Dutch the Tulip’s scientific name Tulipa comes from the Persian word “thoulyban” and translates to turban due to the shape of its petals.

The genus Tulipa is part of the Liliaceae or Lily family and it is a spring blooming perennial.

What do Tulips flower symbolise?

The Tulip flower or Tulipa flower meaning are absolute romance, aspiration, romance, sensuality, spiritual awareness, spring, wealth, a declaration of love. Its possible powers are love, prosperity and protection.

The variety Tulipa Gesneriana or Tulipa didieri symbolises a declaration of love. Its possible powers are abundance, love and luck.

Tulip Flower Colour Meaning

Orange Tulip flower symbolises I am fascinated by you.

Pink Tulip flower meaning is my perfect lover

Purple Tulip flower symbolises Eternal love

Red Tulip flower meaning is believe me, charity, fame, irresistible love, undying love

White Tulip flower symbolises forgiveness, sincerity and virgin

Yellow Tulip flower meaning is there is no chance to reconcile, a hopeless love and you have beautiful eyes

Variegated Tulip flower symbolises image magic and you have beautiful eye

Tulip flower colour meaning

Tulip Zodiac Flower

According to Alchemists the Tulip flower comes under the dominion of the planet Venus.

Therefore, it makes a perfect birth flower for the Taurus zodiac and Libra zodiac since both of their rulers are the planet Venus.

This association with Venus perhaps comes from Shakespeare’s poem. The stalks of the Tulips are usually dense with viscous fluid.

Venus once pluck a Tulip flower from its stem which caused green sap to gush out. She folded the sap into her bosom as if nursing a child.

Tulip Flower Origin

Tulips originate from mountain regions. It likely originated in mountains of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The flower would then be colonised in the Caucasus area which borders both Turkey and ancient Persia. The wild Tulip comes in 120 species but three quarters of those are native to central Asia.

Tulips then spread without human intervention into China, Kashmir, the Himalayas, Atlas mountain in Africa, Isreal, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The variety of wild Tulip Schrenkii is native to the region of Crimea, the Caucasus Mountains and Kurdistan and this variety might be the ancestor of the modern day cultivated Tulip.

Tulip Flower Meaning and History

First cultivation of the Tulip flower was done by the Turks before the 16th century. They called the Tulip ‘Lale’ of which the letters form the name of Allah in Turkish.

The Turks believed that the Tulip was a divine plant. Therefore, during the 16th century the tulip was the official flower when Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was reigning. Today the Tulip is the nation flower of Turkey.

Sultan Murad IV’s historian collected 7 different species of Tulips from Persia in the 16th century. The Sultan Mohammad Babur planted hundred of thousands of Tulips bulbs in the Royal gardens in Kefe which is situated in modern day Ukraine.

The trade of tulips must have been very active in Istanbul during the 16th century since the mayor had published a price list. Consequently, those who sold the tulips above the set price risked exile.

By the 17th century the Turks were breeding new varieties of Tulips. They preferred tulips that were thin and had spiked petals. However, its only in the 18th century that the Tulips have reached their peaked.

Sultan Ahmed III ruled during that time and was fond of hosting lavish parties where the Tulip enhanced the atmosphere. The Sultan’s fascination and desire for the Tulip was so great that he outstripped the domestic supply of Tulips.

In the 18th century the Grand Vizier of Turkey had several hundred bulbs of Tulips in his garden. The garden was known as Lalizari which means “Tulip Lover.”

The Turks even held Tulip festivals during full moons. After the death of Sultan Ahmed in 1703 the passion for Tulips had subsided. However, as of date the interest in Tulip remains strong.

Tulip flower

Introduction to Europe

The Portuguese introduced the Tulip to Portugal in 1530 through the ship captain Lopez Sampayo. He gave the Tulip to the King back then. From Portugal it spread to Flanders around 1530s then to France in 1546.

The same year a French traveler called Pierre Belon visited Turkish gardens where he observed the Tulips. He called them red lily however, he did not take them back to France.

Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq the Flemish writer made sure that the Tulips would grow well in Europe in 1554. Therefore, he sent the bulbs and seeds of the Tulip to the Dutch botanist Carolus Clusius packed in sugar. Clusius ate the Tulip bulbs seasoned with oil and vinegar.

The Dutch ate the Tulip bulbs during World War 2 while they were short on food. Clusius would establish a Tulip garden in Leiden around 1593. It was considered as one of the finest gardens in Europe.

However, he would refuse to sell some of his Tulips despite getting repeated requests. He would eventually name a price so high that no one could afford any of his tulips.

Thieves would then steal his tulips then use the seeds to increase the population of tulip. They would then sell then throughout the Netherlands.

Introduction of Tulips in Europe

The Tulip spread rapidly once it was introduced to Europe. In 1559 the tulip would migrate from Augsburg Germany into Antwerp Belgium. Then it would move from Belgium to Switzerland then Montepellier in France.

Around 1561 the first European illustration and description of the tulip was published by Conrad Gesner.

Similar to Turkey, the Tulip was also a symbol of status in Europe and initially only Aristocrats cultivated the flower. George Frederick, Margrave of Baden-Durlach would spend thousand in florins on Tulips. So did the Duke of Sermoneta in Italy.

Since the tulip was a symbol of status it was reflected in its high price too. A French beer maker once traded his whole brewery which was worth ten of thousands of francs for a single tulip bulb.

There are several possibilities as to how the tulips got into England. Some speculate that it might have come from Flanders and France in 1540s. While other state that it was the Flemish botanist Mattias de L’obel that brought the tulip in 1570.

The speculations and theories concerning the tulip’s introduction in England were endless. Some asserted its source was Vienna and others still argued that Greece and lands near Istanbul were the source.

Tulip flower mania in the Netherlands

The Tulip mania dates back to 1634 although the increase in the price of tulip started prior to this. The Semper Agustus variety of Tulip yielded 1,000 florins per bulb while the average Dutch worker was earning 150 florin per year. And by 1633 a single bulb of Semper Augustus would earn 5,500 florins.

By 1637 the Semper Augustus would be sold for 260,000 per bulb. And by 1638 the tulip mania would have run its course and a single bulb of Semper Augustus would cost 13,000 florins.

This fluctuation in price led the gardener to shut out and speculators to enter the market. Speculators traded the tulip market based on the future rather than the present moment.

Then in 1637 the sellers outnumbered the buyers which caused the price of the tulip to tumble. However, Semper Augustus was able to hold its value.

Around 1637, there was a growing disinterest in tulips. The once lavish paintings of the the tulips was now illustrations of tulips with skulls. The tulip which was once a symbol of prosperity was now a symbol for life transition.

Tulip flowers

Cultivation in the United States

In the 17th century the Dutch introduced tulips to North America. The American colonists grew the tulips on Manhattan Island and the New York governor Peter Stuyvesant cultivated them.

Boston newspapers advertised around 50 varieties of tulips in 1760. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington also grew tulips. The Dutch who migrated west had introduced the tulip to the Midwest.

In 19th century the United States was unable to cope with the growing demand for tulip therefore, they began importing from the Netherlands. In return the Netherlands imported wheat and corn.

Americans seemed to prefer tulips compared to other flowers such as hyacinths and daffodils in the early 20th century. The United States kept importing tulips over the years. They seemed to prefer to tulips that bloomed in late spring.

Tulip Flower Uses and Beliefs

The Tulips had several peculiar uses and beliefs linked to it lets explore some.

If you ever had trouble attracting or keeping a lover then you could place a tulip on your altar which would increase the ability to attract love.

Placing a Tulip in your purse or pocket would bring good luck and also serve as a protection. Additionally, if you placed a piece of a tulip blossom in an amulet it would help with abundance.

Planting Tulips in the garden will help to make the energies of the house filled with a sense of peace and ease.

Having a vase with Tulipa Gesneriana in the kitchen will help with abundance.

Tulip Flower Edible

Cooking with Tulips dates back to the end of the 16th century. The unopened Tulip buds were cooked with peas or green beans. It petals of the Tulip were also used in syrup for desserts or sugared.

Today eating Tulips has largely died out, this is due to the availability of exotic vegetables and fruits.

Yellow Tulip Flower

Tulip Flower Medicinal Use

The references to the Tulip flower being used medicinally is sparse. It was perhaps due to it being expensive in the past. The few records relates to skin ailments such as burns, skin rashes, insect bites and bee stings.

Additionally, the petals were used to soothe grazes, cuts, infected insect bites, scratches, callouses and corns. Young girls would crush the red tulip petals and apply then to their cheeks. This would impart the colour and help to clear any spots.

If you enjoyed this blog then don’t miss out on our Spring Flowers.

References

Cumo, C. (Ed.). (2013). Encyclopedia of Cultivated Plants [3 volumes]: From Acacia to Zinnia. ABC-CLIO.

Cunningham, S. (2012). Cunningham’s encyclopedia of magical herbs. Llewellyn Publications.

Dietz, S. T. (2022). The complete language of flowers the complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history – pocket edition. Wellfleet Press.

Folkard, R. (1884). Plant lore, legends, and lyrics. Embracing the myths, traditions, superstitions, and folk-lore of the plant kingdom. S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington.

Jacobson, M. (2014). Barbarous antiquity: Reorienting the past in the poetry of early modern England. University of Pennsylvania Press. https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812290073

Watts, D. C. (2010). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press.


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