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World's first black tulip grown in Holland

BOVENKARSPEL, The Netherlands -- A Dutch flower grower has bred the first black tulip in the world by cross-breeding two deep purple tulips -- but he said Thursday it will be many years before people can buy their own.

'There is only one bulb now. Starting from that one, we are going to grow more. I figure it may take 15 to 20 years before plenty of black tulips can be put on the market,' said Gert Hageman.

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Hageman put his specimen on display Wednesday at the West Friesland Floral Foundation, where it will remain until Sunday.

Hageman spent seven years trying to develop a black tulip and was finally successful by cross-breeding Queen of the Night and Wienerwald tulips, both deep purple.

He said press reports the black tulip on display was insured for $385,000 were 'only partly true.'

'I can tell you it is heavily insured, it comes close to that,' he said, but refused to reveal the exact figure. 'This tulip is not for sale. It is invaluable.'

Hageman said he began working on the black tulip in 1979.

'First you obtain seeds, then small bulbs. They grow and this year the bulb was big enough to produce a flower,' he said. 'It was also a stroke of luck. We had thousands of seedlings and we selected this one. It worked.'

For decades, flower growers have tried to grow a black tulip but came only as close as deep purple.

'I don't say this one is pitch black, but it is real black,' he said. 'It is the blackest one among all the tulips.'

Hageman, 29, said he had been working in floriculture since age 10 and set up a joint venture with four colleagues eight years ago.

'I have always been in flowers. I love it. It's my life,' he said.

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