Tulips in WWII

Were tulip bulbs eaten during World War II?

Tulips as Food

Tulip bulbs can be eaten, but it is not common. However, tulips did serve as a source of food in Holland in the winter of 1944-1945, deep into the second World War.

The situation in Amsterdam had grown hopeless, and in December a freeze started that would last for several months. Starvation became extremely common, and many people perished. For the first time, eating tulip bulbs became common, along with several other agricultural products not typically considered edible (such as sugar beets) in an effort to prevent starvation.

Growers, unable to export their bulbs, began to sell them as food and market the high starch content. Doctors even began to provide recipes on how to prepare bulbs, such as:

  • Remove the brown skin and cut off the remnants of the roots
  • Cut the bulb in half from top to bottom, remove flower stem
  • Wash thoroughly to clear remaining soil
  • Cook for roughly thirty minutes, similar to potatoes

Should you ever find yourself eating a tulip bulb, you will find the taste similar to that of onions or potatoes.