Aphids «created» the most expensive tulip

In the past, multicolored tulips were particularly valuable. This gave the growers the craziest ideas and they started to experiment.
The tulip mosaic virus was unknown
When prices went crazy during the Dutch tulip fever, tulips came in many colors and their petals were variegated, streaked and striped.

Unfortunately, these color features were often the result not of breeding success but of the tulip mosaic virus, transmitted by aphids.
Unpredictable breeding lines, weak tulips
Accordingly, breeding lines were unpredictable.

This was all the more so because the reason for the sudden color mutation was unknown to the breeders of the time, and tulips affected by the virus were weaker and less consistent in their color pattern than healthy tulips.
Breeders experiment with pigeon droppings
Although horticulturists did not know the real reason for these color variations, they tried to voluntarily produce new species. For example, they dipped the tulip bulbs in ink or sprinkled the flowerbeds with all kinds of colored powders, pigeon droppings and mortar dust.

The most famous (and also the most expensive) of these diseased tulips was at that time the «Semper Augustus».

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