Chrysanthemums, which are also called mums or chrysanths, are flowering plants native to East Asia and northeastern Europe. Most mum plants are easy to grow. Their basic needs are: full sun, rich soil, adequate drainage and good air circulation. Chrysanthemum blooms range from pale yellow to bright red and there also exist some purple and white varieties.
Countless horticultural varieties and cultivars exist. Their cultivation first began in China as a flowering herb around 15th century BCE. In Japan, the Imperial Seal is a chrysanthemum and the institution of Japanese monarchy is also called the Chrysanthemum Throne. When the flowers bloom in autumn, a number of festivals and shows take place throughout Japan.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, chrysanthemums have been used for thousands of years. Through the passageway of time, over 3,000 types of chrysanthemum flowers have been bred. They are known to be a folk remedy for cleansing heat and toxin as well as scattering cold. Chrysanthemums are recommended to reduce fever and cold symptoms in their early stages. As chrysanthemum flowers are ‘cooling’ in nature, it is generally not advisable to drink in large quantities for extended periods of time.
In some European countries, chrysanthemums symbolise death and are associated with mourning. The Italian composer Giacomo Puccini wrote Crisantemi, a movement for string quartet, in memory of his friend. In many parts of Europe, chrysanthemum is the flower that people bring to their deceased loved ones at the cemetery. A possible reason for this is perhaps due to the fact that the plant flowers between the end of October and the beginning of November, coinciding with The Day of the Dead.
In East Asia, it is white chrysanthemums symbolise adversity, lamentation and grief. In other countries, they represent honesty. In the United States, the chrysanthemum flower is generally regarded as positive and cheerful.