One of the harbingers of spring, few flowers can compare to the vibrancy or the drama that surrounds the tulip.
Unlike the candy-colored fields we see of them in cultivation in The Netherlands, tulips originated in the rocky, infertile soil of Central Asia. Enchanted by it's beauty and perhaps it's medicinal properties (it's sap has been used as a salve for scrapes and rashes), the Ottomans were likely some of the first to cultivate tulips in their own gardens and celebrated them in both artwork and poetry. In fact, the tulip probably owes it's name to the Turkish word for turban, "tülbend" a derivative of the Persian word of the same meaning, "delband", inspired by the flowers unique shape.
It wasn't until the 16th century that the tulip made it's way to Europe with much of the spread being thanks to Carolus Clusius, a Dutch botanist and horticulturalist. It's vibrant colors and unique shape made them especially alluring to the Dutch - so much so that by the early 17th century the tulip became considered a prized exotic luxury item. Wealthy merchants of the Dutch East India Company were said to buy and sell singular tulip bulbs for the same price as a house. The fanaticism came to a head from 1734-1737 in what's dubbed "tulip mania", the first recorded instance of a speculative bubble. For deeper dive into this period, I highly recommend reading "Tulipomania" by Mike Dash who gives a fascinating account of this wild time in history. The tulip market crashed in 1737, but devotion to the flower remained strong and the Dutch continue to be considered the most famous growers around the globe.