The Tulip is an herbaceous herb with showy flowers, of which around 75 wild species are currently accepted.
The genus's native range extends west to the Iberian Peninsula, through North Africa to Greece, the Balkans, Turkey, throughout the Levant (Syria, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Jordan) 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 (10 cm) and 28 inches (71 cm) high. The tulip's large 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 color. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes (e.g. Tulipa turkestanica). 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 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).