The tulip is a real globetrotter and originates from the high plains of Central Asia. After many wanderings, the Tulip arrived in the Netherlands in the 16th century. A flourishing Tulip trade developed in the Netherlands thanks to an ideal growing climate and the business instincts of the Dutch.
The man who played a major part in the Tulip’s history and the arrival of the Tulip in the Netherlands was Carolus Clusius, a Flemish scientist, medical doctor and botanist. From 1573 to 1577, he was employed by the Austrian Emperor’s court in Vienna as a botanist. Here, he received Tulip bulbs from another Flemish scientist, named De Busbecq, who had become a friend. De Busbecq had worked for years at the court of the Ottoman Regime, now called Turkey, which was ruled by Süleiman the Great.
Süleiman was a fervent plant enthusiast, and through him De Busbecq became aware of the Tulip. At one point, Clusius left for Holland and took along some of the bulbs. In 1594, he became a professor at the University of Leiden and also the head of the Hortus Botanicus, which was founded in 1590. In the garden, he planted the bulbs he had taken along. He took great care of them, and did not want to share his knowledge with anyone. Further, he had no interest in selling the bulbs or his knowledge, preferring to keep them to himself.
However, his efforts would eventually be in vain, as over the course of one evening thieves raided the garden, stealing most of the bulbs and subsequently starting the commercial Tulip trade in the Netherlands.