The tulips' journey to New York City is similar to the palm tree's journey to Los Angeles—it was centuries ago that humans brought these two otherworldly beauties to places that nature hadn't quite planned for. Tulips originated in the Middle East, just like the Palm, but today they are both common sights stateside.

In the 16th century the flowers were imported to Europe (from Turkey) by the Dutch, and sometime around the 1600s they made it over to the U.S.—in New York, they arrived around the same time as Henry Hudson.

Fun fact: Tulip Mania was a real phenomenon! In 1637 the Dutch people were driven so wild by the flowers that "contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels" before the bottom dropped out. "At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble)." Allegedly, tulips "briefly became the most expensive objects in the world during 1637." It's possible this was all greatly exaggerated, of course—maybe this movie Tulip Fever will provide some truth. (You could also read this book for further investigation.)

Jeff Koons' sculpture 'Tulips' at Rockefeller Plaza in 2012. Talk about an expensive tulip amirite? (Getty)

Like a beautiful infestation, these days you can find millions around the five boroughs during the springtime months. In 2001, a gardener in Amsterdam discussed their wild popularity with the NY Times, explaining, ''I think we needed the color.'' Well the same goes for NYC in the gray and rainy springtime. But how did such a decidedly not-very-New-York flower (it doesn't even look like a New Yorker, what with its jubilant glow) really become a staple on our streets? I asked around...

Turns out, beneath that delicate exterior is a tough little spirit—tulips were integrated into the landscaping plan because they have "hardy bulbs that can survive winter and bloom every spring," NYC Parks Marechal Brown, director of horticulture tells me. And when I asked her if I was hallucinating that the tulips have grown in number this year she assured me that I wasn't seeing things: "This spring seems to be especially full of amazing tulip displays. They may have benefitted from the mild winter and early spring."

And now a word from your author: To keep you interested in this programming, I am going to be placing some delightful photos and videos throughout this piece that you will see as you scroll down, this is in order to keep hold of your fragile attention. Have you ever seen a photo of a tulip field from above? IT IS UNREAL, like you're looking at an entirely different planet or a Pendleton blanket made by Mother Nature. (This sentence was not brought to you by Pendleton, they just make really fantastic blankets and I would purchase one with a tulip field pattern.) Here is what it looks like to stand in their majestic waves of color:

Tulip fields in Germany. (Getty)

What we learned from Marechal Brown of the NYC Parks Department:

  • Tulips are not as likely to re-bloom as daffodils, so they are often treated as temporary installations for spring.
  • They are considered delicious by squirrels, who will dig them up and eat them. Daffodils, on the other hand, are poisonous to squirrels.
  • In New York City tulips were the unofficial "plant of the year" in 2009, the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival (supported by the Dutch) in the Lower Hudson River. Tulips were reputed to arrive on our shores soon after.
  • Since the beginning of the Daffodil Project in 2002 (in partnership with New Yorkers for Parks), we have planted over 5 million daffodil bulbs and 4.5 million other bulbs, including tulips. We have not counted tulips separately.
  • Tulips come in all colors. Orange was popular in 2009, in honor of Henry Hudson and Holland. This year, we have noticed a lot of deep purple flowers mixed with oranges and yellows, complementary colors. As well as the more demure single color tulips and vibrant displays of more open "parrot tulips" in areas like Flushing Meadows.

And now a quick break to look at a tulip selfie featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Just fantastic:

What we learned from Carla Sylvester at the Central Park Conservancy:
  • The Central Park Conservancy planted 194,000 tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs for spring blooming.
  • The best places to see them include Conservatory Garden, Shakespeare Garden, the Pond, Grand Army Plaza, Olmsted bed (south end of the Mall), Pleasant Place, and the entrance at East 90th Street.
  • The greatest concentration of tulips in Central Park is in Conservatory Garden at the far north end of the Park. In 2015, we planted 26,300 tulips in the Conservatory Garden, where they have been a tradition for many years, according to Diane Schaub, Director of the Conservatory Garden. (We know they were part of the plan for Conservatory Garden in 1937, but it is unclear whether the tradition was maintained during the cycle of decline that occurred before Central Park Conservancy was founded in 1980.)
  • Conservancy horticulture experts change the color palettes each year to keep them fresh. “We can't do that with daffodils, so tulips give us the opportunity to keep Park visitors guessing and delighted,” said Maria Hernandez, Director of Horticulture at the Conservancy.
  • The Conservatory Garden is actually comprised of three gardens. The North Garden, designed as a French garden, was always meant to have grand displays of tulips in the spring. The 20,000 tulips we now plant each fall are selected to compliment the deep pink spring blooms of the crabapple allees in the background, so colors may include various tones of pink, purple, burgundy, whites, blacks, greens, soft reds, and pale yellows. Designs differ from year to year — sometimes they are geometric, or curvilinear, or mixes of bulbs that we prepare ourselves, of 5 or 6 colors. “It's fun to play with the different tones, forms, heights, and staggered bloom times,” says Schaub.
  • The South Garden — a traditional English design — has also consistently included tulips in its mixed borders... Schaub uses approximately 30 different tulip cultivars, of early, mid, and late blooming types. Warmer colors line two of the seasonal beds echoing similarly warm colors in the perennial beds that they face, while cooler palettes prevail in those beds facing the cooler-themed perennial beds.

In Central Park you'll also find some "small species tulips within the perennial beds themselves, adorable things like Tulipa clusiana or T. batallinii, and T. humilis," Schaub says. The Shakespeare Garden is currently home to several unusual species of tulips, notable for their size, shape, and color.

And now, here's Tiny Tim who would like to sing to you:

What we learned from Maureen Hackett at Bryant Park Corporation:

The front entrance of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue has always had fantastic and seasonal floral displays, and currently tulips are the headliner. The NYPL isn't in charge of this though: it's Bryant Park's mission to keep up appearances out there.

  • Total spring flowering bulbs planted in ground every autumn: 16,000
  • Total forced bulbs planted in planters in early spring 1,200 (including tulips, daffodil, hyacinth)
  • Total planted along 5th Avenue in front of the NYPL: 5,000
  • Currently Tulipa Maureen (a late white tulip) is starting to be the focal point with emerging perennials.

🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷 TULIP EMOJI BREAK 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

Actually, that's all we have. Maybe someone will bring up tulips at a cocktail party you are at this week and you'll dazzle them with your knowledge. We recommend you lead with Tulip Mania and casually mention how during the 1939-40 World's Fair there was a full week dedicated to the flower. "Why did anyone even bother photographing colorful flowers in the age of black & white film?" you can ask your companion.

Tulip Week at the World's Fair. (Courtesy of the NYPL)