According to the UK-based Flowers & Plants Association, "a pure black flower is the Holy Grail of plant breeders worldwide." To this day there is no such thing as a black flower, although there are many that get pretty close. The tulip is one of them.
Wild tulips (known as species tulips) grow in Central Asia and were first cultivated by the Turks over 1,000 years ago. They were introduced to Holland in the 17th century by Carolus Clusius, a biologist who was researching medicinal plants there at the time.
The arrival of tulips in Holland caused quite a stir. Botanists experimented with the new flowers and began hybridizing them. They became extremely sought after and people made huge fortunes selling them at ridiculously high prices in a period known as "Tulipmania." Eventually oversupply led to a collapse in the prices, causing many to go bankrupt overnight.
Holland is still the world’s leading cultivator and exporter of tulips.
There are more than 3,000 different registered varieties of cultivated tulips, with new ones appearing annually. Because there are now so many, they have been broken down into 15 groups, according to size, shape and their time of flowering.
So-called black tulips are actually dark purple. Varieties include the well-known "Queen of the Night," which flowers in mid- to late spring and can grow up to 36 inches tall. "Negrita" and "Black Jack" are slightly smaller at 24 inches. They flower in mid-spring. "Black Diamond," "Black Horse," "Paul Scherer" and "Greuze" flower in May and can reach 32 inches.
Other names of black tulips include "Ebony Queen," "Black Hero" and "Black Parrot."
The tulip is the world’s third-most popular flower after the rose and the chrysanthemum. According to Gardening-guides.com, the black tulip is one of America’s 10 most popular tulips. It can bring a sense of drama and mystery to a garden border or flower arrangement. In the half light, a dark purple tulip does indeed look black.