Chrysanthemum 101

  • Posted on 06/29/2016 by Laura

These beautiful and unique flowers, which sprout three to seven flowers per stem, are a favorite of Asian cultures. They have incredible diversity not only types of chrysanthemum but in all of their uses and significances.

Food

These blooms are native to Asia, having first been cultivated in China since 15th century BC, as a flowering herb. Chrysanthemums are customarily boiled to make tea, being well loved for its light and pleasant fragrance. Large, white chrysanthemums are the favorite variety to pick for tea making, but the small, often ugly yellow chrysanthemums are the best for flavor. The tea has a sweet flavor and has a host of beneficial medical effects. It can dispel wind heat, suppresses hyperactive liver, improve eyesight, lower blood pressure, remove cancer cells, expand the coronary artery, and prevent bacterial examination. If someone is a long time drinker of the tea there are even more benefits: increase the body’s calcium, regulate myocardial function, and reduce cholesterol.

The young shoots, petals, and steamed or boiled leaves are used in salads. The flowers can be used to thicken snakemeat soup. The Japanese also use small versions of the flower as garnish for sashimi.

Culture

Chrysanthemum is one of the Four Gentlemen in Chinese and Eastern art, accompanying the plum blossom, orchid, and bamboo. These Four Gentlemen, or Four Noble Ones, were depicted in ink and wash paintings. These blooming beauties have also been the subject for hundreds of Chinese poems.

The Chinese were not the only culture to venerate these flowers. The Japanese fell in love when the chrysanthemum came in 8th century AD. The Japanese have orders of chivalry, the highest order of which is the Imperial Order of the Chrysanthemum. They celebrate the flower during their Festival of Happiness, or National Chrysanthemum Day.

Fun Facts

The petals on a chrysanthemum are actually florets because each, like a sunflower or daisy, has both female and male sexual organs. They are smaller flowers that exist on a single stem.

The chrysanthemum can be used as an insecticide. When in sublethal doses, the effect is alike that of an insect repellant.

Extraordinarily, the chrysanthemum flower can help to reduce pollution in the air when indoors.

Like many other flowers, the colors of the chrysanthemum signify different things. Red chrysanthemums mean I love you and yellow ones mean precious one.

Although often associated with happy feelings, in Belgium, Austria, and Italy chrysanthemum is used almost exclusively to memorialize gravestones. Tutankhamen even was buried with collars of chrysanthemum.

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