A natural spectacle of a special kind is currently taking place on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. On fallow meadows blooms dark red Tulipa cypria, which is endemic only here. It is the last week of March, the weather is still cool and we are hiking near Kormakitis through lush flowering vegetation. Other hikers meet us and proudly tell us where they found this rare and strictly protected plant.
Fortunately, today we are far away from the tulip mania, the first speculative bubble in economic history. In the early 1630s, tulip bulb prices soared through options trading and short selling, peaking at an auction in 1637. When no one was willing to pay the expected price for the bulbs on offer, the entire tulip market collapsed.
The name tulip comes from the Ottoman word tülbent for turban, with which it shares the shape. In the Ottoman Empire, the tulip was considered one of the noblest flowers and was planted in the sultan’s gardens. In Turkey, the tulip is considered the national flower and a symbol of life and fertility.
The research trip was supported by Cyprustravel.