The Most Beautiful Tulip in History, The tulip was the rarest and valuable of the high-end tulips during the Tulipomania. It was an extraordinary flower with dark blood-red streaks and flashes on white petals. ... Tulip prices would stabilize near the lows but would never again approach levels are seen in the years immediately preceding the peak.Of all tulip varieties, it was the variegated flowers that most bewitched the Dutch. The contrast in coloring, such as red (Rozen) and purple (Violetten) against a white ground or against yellow (Bizarden), was caused by a virus that beautified but also weakened and eventually killed the bulb, as well as its offshoots. A complete mystery at the time, this mosaic or tulip-breaking virus was conveyed by aphids, which flourished in the fruit trees of seventeenth-century gardens. An infected flower was said to be "broken" and there was no way to determine if or when a flower would break. It was an unpredictable phenomenon that only added to the tulip's allure—and appealed, like the market in spices and porcelains, to a culture of risk-taking and the inherent gamble in trading in such rare commodities. In 1635, one dealer offered a General Gouda for sale, wagering that if a certain fortress then in enemy hands were not retaken in six months, the buyer could have the bulb for free; if it were, he would have to pay 650 fl.With blood-red flares or flames vividly streaked on a white ground, the color displayed as thin feathers or flames symmetrically running along the center and flakes of the same color at the edge of the petals was, by all accounts, a most remarkable flower and one celebrated at the time for its beauty and rarity. And because it was desirable, it was costly, and because it was scarce, it was coveted. Indeed, by the time the market for such exotic tulips collapsed in February 1637, the number of bulbs probably was not much greater than it had been originally.