Tulip 101

  • Posted on 06/29/2016 by Laura

Tulips are well known and well-loved for their shape, which always seems almost perfect. Supposedly, the word comes from the Persian word for turban, which is a bit strange in many ways. From the Turkish tradition of wearing tulips in turbans, Europeans somewhat mistakenly gave the tulip this name. Keep reading to find out why the tulip comes from this word.


In general the tulip has many meanings so it might be a little confusing when you receive a bouquet of lilies as to what exactly they mean. Potentially, your lilies could signify perfect and enduring love between family or partner, undying passionate love even if unrequited, royalty and regality, abundance, prosperity, indulgence, and charity. Tulips are given as an 11-year wedding anniversary.

Tulips come in so many colors! These are what a few of them mean:

Yellow: unrequited love, cheerful thoughts, sunshine.

Bright red: passion and love.

Purple: royalty, prosperity, abundance.

Pink: affection and love, but not quite as intense as red.

White: forgiveness, worthiness.

Variegated tulips are those which have an almost water color effect in a different color. The effect is striking and can mean to represent beautiful eyes.

The red tulip has its own legend in Turkish culture. A Turkish prince, Farhad, fell in love with the fair maiden, Shirin. After learning she had been killed, he rode his horse over the side of a cliff in his grief. Each drop of blood that fell from his death became a red tulip. This gave the red tulip the meaning of a perfect love.

Turkish people think of the tulip as a symbol for paradise on Earth. The tulip has been the subject of many religious as well as secular poems and art pieces. Other cultures had somewhat similar visions of the tulip. The Ottoman Empire planted the bulbs as a reminder of heaven and eternal life.

The Dutch felt the tulip symbolized something quite opposite instead. The flower represented to them brevity of life.

The tulip is traditionally given as an 11th anniversary flower. The tulip’s black yet soft center can be seen as a representation of a lover’s heart. Its deep color is due to the heart becoming darkened by passion.

This deep color in the flower’s center may also represent a broken heart. Contrastingly, a light center represents a light heart.


By the 1600s, the tulip was an extremely popular flower. It would get traded as currency and if someone stole this prized flower, harsh penalties could get triggered.

The flower is edible and was eaten a lot during World War II. When it was discovered that the bulbs possessed a high amount of calories, the flower was used as emergency food rations.


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