Chapter 2 of The Botany of Desire showcases the tulip and explains its place in Western history and economics.
Michael Pollan begins chapter 2 of this book by explaining his own personal connection to the tulip, which was the first flower he ever planted. Later, when he was older and came to consider himself a young farmer, he found that he had no time for flowers anymore. He saw them as less important than other plants.
From there, he goes back to Holland in the 1600s and explains how tulips completely changed the course of the economy in Holland during a three-year span from 1634 to 1637. He explains that he wants to juxtapose these ideas: his "boyish view of the pointlessness of flowers and the unreasonable passion for them that the Dutch briefly epitomized." Pollan then reminds readers that people have always been fascinated by beautiful flowers and ponders why that might be.
Ultimately, that's the main point of this chapter. Flowers are more important than they might seem at first. They attract animals, encourage pollination, fascinate the human mind, and inspire art. They're specialized to be eaten and spread by certain animals to certain places. A person considering the importance of various plants would be remiss if they didn't give due attention and respect to flowers and, particularly, to the tulip.