Mystery Image Contest: March 2-16, 2015


The Showwiner Kaufmanniana tulips are sometimes referred to as water lily tulips because of their resemblance to those flowers. They were named after Konstantin von Kaufmann, the Governor-General of Russian Turkestan in the late 1800s. Because they bloom in March, they are some of the very first tulips to bloom. They differ widely and so there are many species; furthermore there are many crosses. There are over 100 species of tulips and many hundreds of hybrids. Most modern garden tulips are the result of extensive breeding programs that began in the late sixteenth century in Europe and are continuing to this day. This plant hybridization is the process of mating organisms of different varieties or species to create a hybrid. Even though hybridization has been around for a long time, in the 1800s Gregor Mendel took it a step further by precisely controlling it and keeping careful records. His work helped plant breeders everywhere cross-pollinate with more accuracy.


Showwinner Kaufmanniana Tulip

Photo Credit

By Tangopaso (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Winning Entry

Annette Flores
Mary Michael Elementary, Northside Independent SD
San Antonio, TX

For Educators

Teaching Support

With the official start of spring just around the corner, you can use this image to help spark students' curiousity about the great variety of plants they see and how they survive the cold winter weather, grow, and flower at different times of the year. Tulips are some of the most popular flowers worldwide, are often the first to bloom in spring, and come in many different varieties. Their vivid yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple blossoms are a treat for those who live in colder climates and look to tulips as a sign of spring. Although closely associated with Holland, the tulip originally hails from Persia where the word is purported to mean "turban"—describing the flower shape.

One way tulips survive the cold winter weather is that they store energy in underground structures—in this case, the tulip bulb. At planting depth, temperatures rarely fall much below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The sugars in a hardy bulb lower the temperature at which water freezes. This helps prevent the bulb from being injured from the cold weather.

If you happen to have tulips growing in a school garden, you can do a number of different activities with your students, from monitoring what may happen to the plants if temperatures fall below freezing to exploring how temperature affects plant growth. You can check out Journey North's Tulip Test Gardens for more activities and information. You also can explore these Science NetLinks resources for more activities with plants.

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The Science of Spring

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.