A “Parrot Tulip” is one with curled, twisting, or seemingly “feathered” petals—the result of selective breeding by horticulturalists. Quite flamboyant, the Parrot Tulip also is more delicate than their simpler, original ancestors.
As for the bold color striations seen in tulips—the Parrot variety or otherwise—these are the result of a diseased plant. A “Mosaic Virus” is carefully introduced to the plant (by plant breeders), which manifests itself with wild, colorful striping or blotching in the blossom. Think of a horrible, blemishing human skin condition—and transfer it to the floral world. Such an intentional introduction of disease to a plant—for aesthetic effect—is known as “Tulip Breaking.” And, while it results in beautiful color variations, the disease does take its toll on the hardiness of the plant (and the length of the blossom’s vase life).
The card above, printed in England, shows a botanical sketch from 1720. It is one of many new, Spring greeting cards now in-store for your perusal.