Tulip Bulbs A survival tale.
Native of the High Steppes Close your eyes and let's go back nearly two thousand years. The earliest tulips grew wild then ? without any help from humans. They were native to the high steppes (grasslands) and mountains of Asia. Their annual life cycle today reflects how they survived conditions where they developed thousands of years ago.
Adapting to Climate The map shows where in the world you came from. You are buried at 46 degrees north latitude. Draw an imaginary line across the map. Which states or provinces share the same latitude? You are in the mountains. It can get to 40 degrees below zero there.
It Gets Cold What would happen if you came out of the ground during the winter? Plants that did wouldn't survive. Your ancestors survived because they poked out when conditions were right.
Surviving Spring Snows Spring is coming. The days are longer each day. The sun feels stronger, too. The snow melts and trickles down to your roots. You push your leaves up out of the soil. It may snow again but your leaves can survive it. (After all, your ancestors developed in this climate.) The bud that will become your flower grows more slowly.
Physical Adaptations Your leaves have a waxy coating. This keeps them from losing water from inside. It also protects them from "sunburn" and diseases. What do you notice about the shape of the leaves? How might they help you get what you need to survive?
Underground Package As summer nears, it is getting hotter and drier. How will you survive? First your flower dies back. There isn't much water available, so your roots dry up. Your outer skin gets tough. Without any water, your leaves can't make food, so they die back, too. But before they do, they send the rest of the food energy they made down to an underground bulb ? and to new baby bulbs.