The chrysanthemum flower is a genus of roughly 30 species, and is sometimes referred to as a mum or chrysanth. These flowers, which are members of the asteraceae family, are indigenous to northeastern portions of Europe, as well as regions of Asia. These herbaceous perennial flowers come in a variety of shapes and colors. The head, which is actually a cluster of many smaller flowers, may be seen in pompons, decorative, button or daisy shapes – depending upon their species. They can be seen in hues of yellow, red, white and pink. They are also classified into nine separate categories: reflexed, intermediate, pompon, late flowering, incurved, singles, charms, quills and cascades.

Today, the chrysanthemum flower has almost certainly become one of the most sought after garden blossoms around. However, these blooms have a long – and well traveled – history. Their cultivation was originally noted around 15th Century B.C. in China and, in fact, can be seen in early art. In Japan, this flower was introduced some time in the 18th Century A.D., when a 16-floret species called “Ichimonjiginu” was then adopted as a crest by the Emperor. In the Western world, chrysanthemum finally came to light during the 17th Century, when Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named the plant from the Greek words “chrysous” and “anthemon” meaning “golden flower.” Since then, these ornamental blossoms have become quite the hit, and can be seen anywhere from prom night corsages in the United States to large exhibitions in Japan. The chrysanthemum flower is more than just a pretty plant, though. These flowers are considered not only highly edible – with a faintly bitter, tangy flavor – but quite the curative as well. The leaves of these plants are often boiled or steamed so that they may be eaten in stir-fries or salads; the petals may be used to flavor snake meat soups or rice wines. However, they are most frequently dried and turned into sweetly flavored teas which are said to work wonders on a number of ailments. The yellow chrysanthemum flower is said to help break fevers, while the white variety can be used to sooth tired eyes. They are also thought to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

As a gift, the chrysanthemum flower is often given on Mother’s Day, to those who are born in November, or those who are celebrating a 13th wedding anniversary – as this blossoms are representative of all three occasions. They are also given for many romantic events, as white chrysanthemums represent loyal love, and red varieties are simple tokens that say, “I love you!” In Japan, these flowers are also emblems of a long life, and may be given on any occasion to wish the recipient a good, healthy existence.