Some trivia about our fall favorite - Chrysanthemum

    Submitted by Jacki Brewer

Common name:  Chrysanthemum, mum, tansy

Botanical name:  Chrysanthemum, Dendranthema

Family:  Asteraceae

The name 'chrysanthemum" comes from the Greek chrys (golden) and anthos (flower).  The Mediterranean Chrysanthemum coronarium, from the Latin coronarius (used for garlands), was a golden-yellow flower from which garlands were made to protect against demons.  It wa also called Dios ophrya (God'd eyebrows).  The European feverfew (the medieval Tanacetum, or "tansie," now Chrysanthemum parthenium) was widely used as  an antipyretic (an agent that reduces fever).

The Chinese chrysanthemum, originally a daisy-like wild plant, had been cultivated in Chinese gardens for more then twenty-five hundred years before it came to the west.  Chrysanthemums include flowers we call daisies such as the ox-eye daisy, the painted daisy, and the Shasta daisy.

Chrysanthemum symbolizes a scholar in retirement but not necessarily a recluse.  Mums were considered one of the four "noble plants" along with bamboo, plum, and orchid.

About 400 A.D. Zen Buddhist monks took the chrysanthemum to Japan where they became the symbol of the Mikado (Emperor).  The first garden mum was exhibited in England in 1795.  In Italy mums are associated with the dead and are unacceptable in any other use.

Chrysanthemums are short-day flowers so they are easily manipulated in the greenhouse growing industry to bloom anytime of year specifically as florist plants or cut flowers for arrangements.  In the garden, Chrysanthemums bloom in the autumn, though, in milder climates some may come on in spring, too.

Information gathered from the book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells, copyright 1997.