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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of April 30, 1999

This week, facts about... tulips, their thousand year history and today's interest in the perfect "black" variety.

Transcript

KNOY: Tulip. The world is believed to stem from the Turkish for "turban," because Turks would tuck the flower in their spiraling headdresses. Tulips were first cultivated more than 1,000 years ago and quickly became a precious agricultural commodity. During the 1600s, tulips were the Internet stocks of today. The Dutch were known to pay small fortunes for so-called "broken bulbs." Those are the ones that break into beautiful streaks of color. But when the government stepped in to regulate the market, prices plummeted and whole estates were lost. Later the tulip became a matter of life and death. In Holland and Ireland, people ate tulip bulbs during times of famine. Fried in a little oil and salted, they taste a bit like a potato. And in Japan people still mill tulip bulbs to make a special baking flower. There are thousands of varieties of tulips, but the one receiving the most attention these days is the coveted black tulip. It's actually a deep purple, which looks black from afar. Tulip growers are offering a$30,000 reward to the first person who successful cultivates a pure black tulip. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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