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Tulip mania and the multimillion-dollar industry

The tulips are out, by the millions, all over the world, in all colors imaginable, some bi-color or tri-color, in stripes, curly, double- or single-petaled, heralding spring with their vibrant shades.

Tulips are so varied, available, neat, beautiful, and cheap — here, in European supermarkets, a dozen costs around €2,50; rarely more than 40 or 50 cents for a nice tulip bulb — that some horticulturists believe tulips are grabbing the No. 1 spot from the rose as the most popular flower in the world.

What they surpass for sure and by far are the orchids, hyacinths, and daffodils that also appear among the most-sold flowers in Europe. Furthering their appeal, they lack the connotations of romance or grief attached to other flowers.

“Their brilliant bursts are interesting, attractive and offer an explosion of color,” horticulturalists and historian Abra Lee told columnist Mona Chalabi in The Guardian. “While other blooms like daffodils and cherry blossoms offer a quiet and subtle awakening to spring, tulips arrive in grand fashion, are bold and shake the table, and are here to get the party started.”


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