Carol Klein's Plant Odysseys



So tulips come from Amsterdam, right? Wrong. Although tulip mania almost destroyed the Dutch economy in 1637, the flower actually originates in the mountains of eastern Turkey. Here the species tulip grows wild in surprisingly harsh environments.

These days, of course, the Netherlands is the hub of the world’s tulip industry, with Aalsmeer flower market near Amsterdam handling more than 20 million blooms every day. Carol Klein, surrounded by a breathtakingly colourful carpet of flowers on a Dutch tulip breeder’s farm, discovers how the distinctive “broken tulips” that sparked off the 17th-century mania were created by a virus and so have to be destroyed.


Carol's quest to uncover the colourful history of the tulip begins high in the mountains of eastern Turkey, where an early ancestor of those grown in today's gardens can be found flourishing in the harshest of environments. The next leg of her journey takes her to the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, Holland, where she discovers how the wealthy elite were struck by tulip mania and the Dutch economy was almost brought to its knees.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Carol Klein