The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, of which up to 109 species have been described and which belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, Anatolia (Turkey),Israel, Palestine, North Africa, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush, and Tien Shan mountains. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to be displayed as fresh-cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana.
Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Depending on the species, tulip plants can grow as short as 4 inches (10 cm) or as high as 28 inches (71 cm). The tulip's large flowers usually bloom on scapes or subscapose stems that lack bracts. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes (e.g. Tulipa turkestanica). The showy, 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 colorings. Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colors, except pure blue (several tulips with "blue" in the name have a faint violet hue).