an outbreak of tulip breaking virus made select flowers even more beautiful

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The tulip was brought to Europe on trading vessels that sailed from the East. Because of this, it was considered an exotic flower that was also difficult to grow, since it could take years for a single tulip to bloom. During the 1630s, an outbreak of tulip breaking virus made select flowers even more beautiful by lining petals with multicolor, flame-like streaks.
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Please, explain to me this part. Was it a virus that "breaks" tulips? How can it make them "more beautiful" then? Or do I misunderstand the idea?
Thank you.
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    And here's another Wiki article (Tulip mania) explaining the meaning of the name:
    As a result, tulips rapidly became a coveted luxury item, and a profusion of varieties followed. They were classified in groups: the single-hued tulips of red, yellow, or white were known as Couleren; the multicolored Rosen (white streaks on a red or pink background); Violetten (white streaks on a purple or lilac background); and the rarest of all, the Bizarden (Bizarres), (yellow or white streaks on a red, brown or purple background).[21] The multicolor effects of intricate lines and flame-like streaks on the petals were vivid and spectacular and made the bulbs that produced these even more exotic-looking plants highly sought-after. It is now known that this effect is due to the bulbs being infected with a type of tulip-specific mosaic virus, known as the "Tulip breaking virus", so called because it "breaks" the one petal color into two or more.
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