The genus's native range extends west to the Iberian Peninsula through North Africa to Greece the Balkans Turkey throughout the Levant and Iran north to Ukraine southern Siberia and Mongolia and east to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of diversity is in the Pamir Hindu Kush and Tien Shan mountains. It is a common element of steppe and winter-rain Mediterranean vegetation.
Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Depending on the species, tulip plants can be between 4 inches and 28 inches high. The tulip's flowers usually bloom on scapes with leaves in a rosette at ground level and a single flowering stalk arising from amongst the leaves. Tulip stems have few leaves. Larger species tend to have multiple leaves. Plants typically have two to six leaves some species up to 12. The tulip's leaf is strap-shaped with a waxy coating and the leaves are alternately arranged on the stem these fleshy blades are often bluish green in colour. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes. The generally cup or star-shaped tulip flower has three petals and three sepals which are often termed tepals because they are nearly identical. These six tepals are often marked on the interior surface near the bases with darker colourings. Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colours except pure blue.
The flowers have six distinct basifixed stamens with filaments shorter than the tepals. Each stigma has three distinct lobes and the ovaries are superior with three chambers. The tulip's seed is a capsule with a leathery covering and an ellipsoid to globe shape. Each capsule contains numerous flat disc-shaped seeds in two rows per chamber. These light to dark brown seeds have very thin seed coats and endosperm that does not normally fill the entire seed.
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