Dialog Box

The History of the Parkinson’s Tulip

Have you ever wondered why the Tulip is the international symbol of Parkinson’s? Find out more below as we celebrate World Parkinson's Day and Parkinson's Awareness Month. 
Pictured: Janet McLeod, OAM, Clinical Nurse Manager stands by the door of Parkinson's WA

In 1980, a Dutch horticulturist JWS Van der Wereld, who had Parkinson’s, developed a red and white variant of the tulip. He named this the Dr James Parkinson’s tulip in honour of the English General Practitioner who first wrote about the condition in his 1817 publication, ‘The Essay of The Shaking Palsy’.

The tulip has been adopted as a symbol by many Parkinson’s organisations around the world and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association chose the tulip as the symbol for its logo in 1996.

Several years later, in 2005, the tulip was formally adopted as the official symbol of Parkinson’s on 11 April, World Parkinson’s Day, at a Parkinson’s meeting in Luxembourg. Since that time, several variations to the form of a tulip have been used as easily recognisable symbols.

The tulip is an ideal flower to adapt and modify in relation to Parkinson’s, as several interesting observations and connections can be made.             

The stylised format of a tulip so frequently used as a symbol for Parkinson’s organisations is clearly divided into two equal halves - this represents the two sides of the brain.

If a tulip is neglected in a vase, it will soon lose its erect posture and become bent forward. However, with care and attention, it can conserve its posture for longer. 

Just so if a person with Parkinson’s does not exercise and practice good posture in conjunction with medication, they will become forward flexed.

Tulips are also regarded as a symbol of hope for the Parkinson’s community and the three petals often depicted are said to represent education, research and advocacy.

Article written by Janet McLeod, OAM, Clinical Nurse Manager

05 April 2023
Category: Articles