Chrysanhemum - The meaning of flowers
The chrysanthemum is a popular perennial first cultivated by the Chinese more than 2500 years ago. Used initially as a herb, the chrysanthemum was first exhibited in England in 1795.
Chrysanthemum is a Chinese word, derived from "Chu hua" meaning "October flower". It is also the emblem of the Old Chinese Army and, in China, the chrysanthemum has long been considered a very noble plant along with the orchid, bamboo and the plum. It was so well thought of that only the noble were allowed to grow the chrysanthemum in their gardens - lower classes were strictly forbidden from doing so.
It is said that Buddhist monks first brought the Chrysanthemum to Japan around 400AD. The Japanese Emperors were so impressed and thought so highly of the little flower that they often sat on thrones of chrysanthemums - there is even a book named the "Chrysanthemum Throne". To this day, the Japanese believe that the chrysanthemum is a symbol of the sun, and that the way in which the flower opens its petals denotes perfection. Japan also holds a "chrysanthemum festival" known as the Festival of Happiness.
As with many flowers, the Greek language comes into play with the naming of the Chrysanthemum. The name is believed to derive from "chrysos" meaning gold, and "anthos" meaning flower.
Now so widely cultivated, there are a huge array of chrysanthemum colours and shapes. Colours range from vibrant lime green to rich red, brown and yellow, not forgetting of course pinks, whites and other pale pastel colours. Decorative varieties include chrysanthemums shaped like huge pom-poms, much smaller round-headed "kermit" blooms, spider-shaped chrysanthemums and various others, not forgetting the traditional daisy-like chrysanthemums and chrysanthemum blooms.
In some European countries, the chrysanthemum symbolises bereavement - most notably in Italy, France, Belgium and Austria. Chrysanthemums are only ever sent in these countries at a time of sadness, death specifically. In the UK however, the chrysanthemum holds a much more positive sentiment, used widely in all lines of floristry. Florists, customers and recipients alike often cannot fail to love the vibrant colours and wild shapes of this most versatile flower.
Did you know?
# In some parts of Asia the flowers are boiled up to make a sweet tea like beverage. This is a medicinal drink and allegedly aids the recovery of influenza. There are also similar recipes which involve boiling the roots.
# In some species of Chrysanthemum the leaves of the plant are grown as a leaf vegetable known as "tung ho". Fried with garlic and chili, the dark green leaves are said to be well textured and the aromatic.
# In Feng Shui, chrysanthemums are believed to bring laughter and happiness to the home.
# In America, the chrysanthemum is now the largest commercially grown plant in the country.
# The chrysanthemum is related closely to chamomile, marguerite and matricaria.