Today is Earth Day, a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year. The United Nations celebrates an Earth Day each year on the March equinox, a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969.
Last Saturday, I made the image above of colorful tulips in full bloom in front of a condominium building on 60th Street and First Avenue.
Tulipa, commonly called tulip, is a genus of about 150 species of bulbous flowering plants in the family Liliaceae. The native range of the species includes southern Europe, north Africa, and Asia from Anatolia and Iran in the west to northeast of China. The centre of diversity of the genus is in the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains and the steppes of Kazakhstan. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, used as pot plants or as fresh cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana. The species are perennials from bulbs, the tunicate bulbs often produced on the ends of stolons and covered with glabrous to variously hairy papery coverings. The species include short low-growing plants to tall upright plants, growing from 10 to 70 centimeters (4–27 in) tall. They can even grow in the cold and snowy winter. Plants typically have 2 to 6 leaves, with some species having up to 12 leaves. The cauline foliage is strap-shaped, waxy-coated, usually light to medium green and alternately arranged. The blades are somewhat fleshy and linear to oblong in shape. The large flowers are produced on scapes or subscapose stems normally lacking bracts. The stems have no leaves to a few leaves, with large species having some leaves and smaller species have none. Typically species have one flower per stem but a few species have up to four flowers. The colourful and attractive cup shaped flowers typically have three petals and three sepals, which are most often termed tepals because they are nearly identical. The six petaloid tepals are often marked near the bases with darker markings. The flowers have six basifixed, distinct stamens with filaments shorter than the tepals and the stigmas are districtly 3-lobed. The ovaries are superior with three chambers. The 3 angled fruits are leathery textured capsules, ellipsoid to subglobose in shape, containing numerous flat disc-shaped seeds in two rows per locule. Although tulips are associated with Holland, both the flower and its name originated in the Persian empire. The tulip, or lale (from Persian لاله, lâleh) as it is also called in Turkey, is a flower indigenous to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and other parts of Central Asia. It is unclear who first brought the flower to northwest Europe. The most widely accepted story is that of Oghier Ghislain de Busbecq, Ambassador from Ferdinand I to Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire in 1554. He remarks in a letter upon seeing "an abundance of flowers everywhere; Narcissus, hyacinths, and those which in Turkish Lale, much to our astonishment, because it was almost midwinter, a season unfriendly to flowers". In Persian Literature (classic and modern) special attention has been given to these two flowers, in specific likening the beloved eyes to Narges and a glass of wine to Laleh. The word tulip, which earlier in English appeared in such forms as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend, "muslin, gauze". (The English word turban, first recorded in English in the 16th century, can also be traced to Ottoman Turkish tülbend.)