Not commonly known, the sweet and adorable Ping Pong flower is actually a Chrysanthemum! The name “Chrysanthemum” is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold), and anthemon (flower). - Did you know that there are about 40 wild species of chrysanthemums and thousands of varieties created via selective breeding? Isn't that just amazing? Some varieties of the gerbera flowers bloom with a single row of petals around one central core, while others gerbera varieties are ruffled and doubled. They look like just like pom-poms!
The Chrysanthemum flower was often used as an herbal remedy. Its root were boiled and believed to provide headache relief while the sprouts and petals were eaten in salads.
The Chrysanthemum flower was first cultivated by the Chinese. The very first breeding efforts is dated back to the 15th century BC. From China, the chrysanthemum made its way over to Japan in AD 400. The Japanese were so enamored by this beautiful flower that it was adopted as the Emperor’s crest and official seal. The Japanese's name for the chrysanthemum flower is “Kiku” and has declared a National Chrysanthemum Day which is also called The Festival of Happiness.
In the 17th century, the chrysanthemum flower was introduced to Europe. Karl Linnaeus (the father of modern taxonomy) had given its Western name “Chrysanthemum.” As we know, a name derived from Greek words. - Chrysanthemum have also been a part of landscaping in the U.S. since importation in 1798.
Since the Chrysanthemum flowers was first cultivated in China, this sweet flower holds deep cultural significance to this very day. The chrysanthemum was declared as one of the Four Gentleman (which includes the plum orchid, bamboo and blossom). These four main plants are derived from Confucianism and depicted in traditional Chinese watercolor paintings.
While in Japan, the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum is the most prestigious honor that can be awarded by the Emperor in the military. - The chrysanthemum with 16 petals is also used for official government documents and the official seal for the Imperial family.
Chrysanthemums generally symbolize longevity, fidelity, joy and optimism. Various colors symbolize other important meanings as well.