Although beloved by florists for its beautiful appearance, the chrysanthemum is famous for far more than its elegant looks. In Asia, where the flower originates from, it is considered a herb with powerful medicinal properties. We delved into the backstory of this bouquet favourite to find out more.
Real flower power
The chrysanthemum is native to China and Japan, where for centuries they've celebrated the flower's healing powers. Some detoxified varities of Chrysanthemum are staples of traditional Chinese medicine: chrysanthemum morifolium, for example, is used to treat headache, dizziness and high cholesterol. And for sufferers of the common cold, a sweet tea made with the flowers of the Indian chrysanthemum is said to help recovery. Scientists in Europe and America have also begun to examine the flower's remarkable properties, and the initial results are very promising.*
A flower for the superstitious
There are many powerful rituals surrounding the chrysanthemum. In Asia, the chrysanthemum is the symbol of a long and happy life. As part of this superstition, chrysanthemum wine is drunk in China on the ninth day of the ninth month for peace, health and old age.
The chrysanthemum also has a powerful meaning in Greek superstition. There, the flower is seen as a protector against evil spirits. This is the reason you'll often see the flowers in graveyards — but don't be persuaded into picking them. Tradition dictates that graveside chrysanthemums give bring bad luck, headaches and even nightmares.
Lastly, there is a superstition that you may be familiar with: the fortune-telling power of Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, also known as the daisy. The game of pulling petals off the flower head one by one whilst chanting 'He loves me, he loves me not…' has its origins in old soothsaying rituals that made use of the flower.
Armed with the backstory of this powerful flower, perhaps you'll view your next bunch of chrysanthemums in a new light.
*Please note that edible flowers have to be grown in a certain way to make them fit for human consumption. The cut flowers and plants for sale in shops cannot be brewed in tea or used as medicine.