LEIDEN - The famous botanist Charles Clusius arrived in Leiden. He will participate in the construction of the Botanical Garden at the University. He probably has the tulip with him, which is already very famous and popular abroad.

Charles Clusius was asked last year to come to Leiden. The 67-year-old Clusius previously worked in France, Duitsland, Spain and Portugal. He was employed for many years at the court by Emperor Maximilian II of Austria.

In the years that Clusius was active abroad, He discovered more than 200 new plant. Many of these discoveries he incorporated in a book, he wrote in Latin.


One of the most famous flowers where Clusius is concerned with is the tulip. The tulip is the lily family. The flower is originally from Kazakhstan, but ended up on the Ottoman Empire in Europe.

Thirty years ago it was already shipped a cargo tulip bulbs in Antwerp. The story goes that a merchant mistook the tulips for onions. Disappointed in the taste, He threw the bulbs on a compost heap. Since a year later grew tulips.


Clusius came in his Viennese period for the first time in contact with the tulip. The flower was given the first gift by Sultan Suleyman to Ogier Gisleen of bousbecque, a French diplomat in the service of Emperor Maximilian II. From bousbecque befriended Clusius.

Last year, shortly before his death from bousbecque tulips sent some seeds to Clusius. The botanist planted the seeds. The expectation is that he takes the bred tulip bulbs to Leiden.

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The choice of Clusius to grow the balls and do not sell is striking, because the tulips worth very much money. But Clusius has always maintained that he is the scientific value of the plants and flowers that he describes in his book is more important than the financial value.

Not only the tulips are expensive and rare. This also applies in the Ottoman Empire, where the tulips come from. So bear Sultan Suleyman the First them as a sign of power and wealth sometimes a tulip in his turban. Every year a great festival in Istanbul when the tulips were in bloom.

Hoe ging het verder?

Ja, tulips came to Leiden. Clusius was complete descriptions of tulips in the botanical garden of Leiden. But was stolen some of the precious flowers.

Over the years, more and more tulips in the Low Countries, but not enough to meet demand. The prices were sky high, until a tulip yielded more than an Amsterdam canal.

In 1637 clapped the tulip bubble and many speculators were left with large debts behind.

Clusius was the year after he arrived professor in Leiden. He died in 1609, so as the tulip mania, he more or less unleashed, not even experienced.

Except for the dissemination of the tulip, Clusius played an important role in the spread of the potato.


Hortus Leiden – History

Hortus Leiden – The Exotic World of Carolus Clusius

Tulpen.nl – tulips Madness

Wikipedia – Carolus Clusius

Text: Dave Datema

published: 01 oktober 2017

story number: 30

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