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Tradition and beauty - early-flowering plants from bulbs in botany and arts



Europeans have always been fascinated by flower bulbs and their magnificent blooms, from tulip-obsessed Dutch medieval artists to urban gardeners of today. Flower bulbs have been cultured for centuries, and a large number of earlier species and varieties still grow today. Characterised by their remarkable beauty and special fragrance, these historical rarities are coveted plants for gardeners and collectors. Given that the inconspicuous bulbs from which the flowers spring resemble dirty-brown clumps for most of the year, it seems miraculous when such beauty later emerges. In botanical terms, a bulb is structurally a short stem with fleshy leaves or leaf bases which function as food storage organs during dormancy. A bulb's leaf bases contain food reserves to enable the plant to survive adverse conditions. Bulbous plant species cycle through vegetative and reproductive growth stages that may have quite different shapes; the bulbs grow to flowering size during the vegetative stage and the plants flower during the reproductive stage. The transition from one stage to another is triggered by environmental conditions, such as the change from a cold winter to a warmer spring. Once the flowering period is over, the plant enters the important foliage period - during the next six weeks, the plant absorbs nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun in order to prepare for next year’s production of flowers. Bulbs dug up after the completion of the foliage period can be easily stored and will bloom again the following year. In this cluster, beautiful examples of flowers from bulbs are collected, spanning about 400 years of flower enthusiasm. These records include field drawings, paintings, copper engravings, herbarium sheets, photos and floral art.

Creator:Petra Böttinger
Provenance:LinBi - https://linbi.eu/
Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem
Object type:Image

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