The cosmetics industry is constantly in seek of “the new” for consumers, while the vast majority of cut-flowers consumed in Greece are either imported from abroad or come from foreign plant species.

The TULIPS.GR project aims to establish for the first time the necessary conditions for the creation of a value chain centered on the 15 Greek tulips (12 native species). This proposal aims at the production of high value-added products in the field of ornamental industry and floriculture, through an integrated approach of ex-situ conservation, which includes: authorized collections from the natural environment; sustainable production of well-documented propagating material; development of special propagation and cultivation protocols in different places; cultivation with precision fertilizers of innovative composition; as well as investigation of the post-harvest physiology of fresh ornamental products (cut flowers).

Focusing on the indigenous tulip species of Greece, this scientific methodology creates a model to emulate and contributes to the promotion and sustainable utilization of the country’s unique plant wealth in the primary sector, providing the opportunity to highlight new competitive products related to Greece’s unique biodiversity.

The vertical approach adopted in this proposal strengthens the primary sector by introducing 5 new plant species with low input as new crops and paves the way for additional growth opportunities with the active participation of stakeholders, producers, cooperatives and trade associations.

Tulips have always been an ornamental luxury item since the Ottoman era, and they have been cultivated systematically in Europe since the 16th century. Tulip mania caused the first documented economic crash (1637) in the Netherlands and associated countries.
The Netherlands has the most organized tulip production with 3 billion bulbs per year, while 9 of the 10 bulbs exported worldwide are Dutch (Benschop et al. 2010, Greenfield 2018).

It should be noted that the Netherlands, which is still a leader in the tulip trade, does not have any native tulip species.

In Greece, there are 15 wild-growing species of tulip (Tulipa spp.). They grow naturally and many of them are endemic ones (do not exist anywhere else) threatened with extinction (those marked with asterisk, *), e.g. *T. bakeri, *T. cretica, *T. doerfleri, *T. orphanidea, *T. gulimyi and * T. hageri. Some of them, are endemics of the Balkans and Anatolia (Turkey), e.g. T. bithynica, T. scardica and *T. undulatifolia, while others are rare species of the eastern Mediterranean, e.g. T. saxatilis but also T. agenenis, T. raddii, and T. clusiana (the last three are considered to have escaped from cultivation and naturalized). Of the above species, 7 (those marked with *) are already threatened with extinction, and 9 are range-restricted.

The tiny *T. cretica has already a special commercial interest in the global online ornamental plant trade with prices ranging from € 1.8-3.6 (bulb and live plant, respectively, Krigas et al. 2014). The above elements are aimed to contribute to the creation of new Greek products with potential exclusive branding.