Celebrating the first day of spring

March 20 marks the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning that for the next six months daylight hours will outlast nighttime darkness, and we’ll see plenty of beautiful blooms like the tulips shown here. They were photographed in Drenthe Province of the Netherlands, a country that’s been famous for tulips since the 17th century. That’s when the price of tulip bulbs climbed to astronomical heights and then dramatically collapsed in what’s since become known as the first economic bubble, dubbed ‘Tulip Mania.’

Tulips form a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes. The flowers are usually large, showy and brightly coloured, generally red, yellow, or white. They often have a different coloured blotch at the base of the tepals, internally. Because of a degree of variability within the populations, and a long history of cultivation, classification has been complex and controversial. The tulip is a member of the Liliaceae family, along with 14 other genera, where it is most closely related to Amana, Erythronium and Gagea in the tribe Lilieae. There are about 75 species, and these are divided between four subgenera. The name "tulip" is thought to be derived from a Persian word for turban, which it may have been thought to resemble. Tulips originally were found in a band stretching from Southern Europe to Central Asia, but since the seventeenth century have become widely naturalised and cultivated. In their natural state they are adapted to steppes and mountainous areas with temperate climates. Flowering in the spring, they become dormant in the summer once the flowers and leaves die back, emerging above ground as a shoot from the underground bulb in early spring.
Scientific name: Tulipa
Biological classification: Genus
Consists of: Tulipa gesneriana · Tulipa clusiana · Tulipa linifolia · Tulipa armena · Tulipa humilis · Tulipa saxatilis · Tulipa turkestanica · Tulipa pulchella · Tulipa didieri · Tulipa ingens · Tulipa acuminata · Tulipa heterophylla · Tulipa agenensis · Tulipa kaufmanniana · Tulipa orphanidea
Belongs to: Lilioideae
Tulipa gesneriana (Tulipa gesneriana) in bloom in Jerusalem Botanical Garden