“Edelweiss, Edelweiss; every morning, you greet me.
Small and white, clean and bright; the blossom of snow may you bloom and grow forever.”
You might have or haven’t hear the lyrics above from the song titled “Edelweiss,” sung by Richard Rodgers. The song tells about a flower named Edelweiss. As the song describes, the Edelweiss flower is small and white and is not a common flower we might be able to see growing in someone’s garden. Edelweiss is also said to symbolize true love, strength, and bravery. Its grand meaning, but the Edelweiss flower, is also considered the national flower of several countries. What makes the Edelweiss flower became very popular and unique? Let’s find out more about this beautiful flower, from its etymology, meaning, and symbol, and even how to grow it yourself in your garden, right in this article.
The Flower that is not a Flower?
Although shaped like a flower, the Edelweiss plant is not a flower because it does not produce blossoms. Their leaves are shaped like stars, and they have soft and furry hair covering white in color, and a slight tinge of green. The leaves are woolly and can be spotted from miles away. The center of the plant has a yellow color because of the pollen dust. The Edelweiss plant has fuzzy leaves that able to protect themselves from cold and ultraviolet rays. It is said that the high altitudes and cold winters have kept the plant small. Also, the Edelweiss flower is a member of the daisy and sunflower family.
The Edelweiss plant has a robust root system and fibrous to anchor themselves even in the most difficult part of terrains. Because of this root, the Edelweiss plant tends to take some time to grow and cannot grow more than 12 inches.
The Edelweiss Flower Meaning
The name Edelweiss translates to “noble white” in Germany, from the word “edel” that means noble and “weiss” that means white. It also goes by its scientific name, named Leontopodium alpinum. Besides those official names, Edelweiss flower also has several names and meaning because of its unique appearance and features, for example, Wollblume or ‘Wool Flower’ in the 16th century by Zurich naturalist named Konrad Gessner; Klein Löwenfuss or ‘Small Lion’s Foot’; étoile du glacieror ‘Star of the Glacier’; étoile d’argentor ‘Silver Star’; and immortelle des Alpes or ‘Everlasting flower of the Alps’. Those names have been used by many biologists and botanists around the world to describe the Edelweiss flower.
However, the name “Edelweiss” first appeared in 1785 in a study by an Austrian naturalist called Karl von Moll, but it was known later in the mid-19th century when famous German-speaking botanists used that name. After then, the name Edelweiss starts to transcend through languages and borders.
Where can Edelweiss be found?
Edelweiss flower can be found in the Swiss Alps’ rocky regions where it survived the harsh winters and can be found growing in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, and even in some parts of Asia. It grows in areas at very high altitudes of at least 5.600 feet up to around 9.000 feet. It is not a single flower, but usually, more than 50 to 500 tiny florets are growing around, clustered in about 2 to 12 yellow flower heads and surrounded by 5 to 15 velvety white leaves, forming in the shape of a star. Some scientists also believe that the Edelweiss plant originally grows in Asia but migrated to the Alps during the Ice Age. The highest sighting record of the Edelweiss plant was at 3,140 meters above Zermatt, Switzerland. Edelweiss flower blooms around July to September. Edelweiss flower has usually grown in limestone soil or exposed limestone rocks, and some could be found at the edge of meadows. However, some countries declared Edelweiss flowers as protected plants, as there are too many tourists and locals who picked the flowers up that it later becomes endangered.
Edelweiss as the symbol of True Love, Strength, Patriotism, and Bravery
Edelweiss flower or Leontopodium alpinum is a flower that is used to symbolize or represent many things related to devotion and deep love. The Edelweiss flower grows in the remote and rocky areas of the Alps Mountain. Hence it is quite difficult to find. In the past, men would venture into the alps to collect the Edelweiss flowers. They have to face difficult obstacles only to find those flowers, be it trying not to fall from icy ledges or snowy peaks even death because of the dangerous adventure uphill. That’s why, when men successfully harvest the flowers for their loved ones, it proves as a symbol of their devotion and true love. There’s one most famous story about the Edelweiss flower about a young man who risked his life to climb the steep and rocky face of a mountain to find Edelweiss flower for a woman to demonstrate his love and bravery. These Edelweiss flower meaning and the difficulty of finding the flower was further exaggerated by the German author named Berthold Auerbach, who wrote the novel ‘Edelweiss’ in 1861, claiming that the possession of an Edelweiss flower is a proof of an unusual daring, which later boosts up Edelweiss flower’s popularity.
The Edelweiss flower meaning isn’t only limited to love, but also strength and toughness; the delicate Edelweiss flower survived the harshest of winters up in the Alps’ high altitude which is why the little flower has been associated with those meanings.
Besides those meanings mentioned above, the Edelweiss flower was also famous for its meaning as the symbol of patriotism and bravery, which came from the song titled ‘Edelweiss’ from the musical The Sound of Music that talked about Austrian patriotism when they fought against Nazi. This flower was also famous for being the favorite flower of Adolf Hitler. And some people suggest that this flower also holds meaning as a reminder of a dark past because of that reason.