Edelweiss Meaning – A small mountain flower, Edelweiss, gained fame when it became the theme song for a musical called “The Sound of Music”.
But that’s not all you need to know about this plant. Let’s explore the history, symbolism, and interesting facts surrounding Edelweiss.
Characteristics of Edelweiss
Although edelweiss technically does not fall under the classification of flowers, it is in the Asteraceae family and consists of 50 to 500 small flower’s that form into 2 to 12 ‘flower heads’ with 15 white leaves that create a double star shape.
Edelweiss is a low-growing plant that relies on limestone rock exclusively for its habitat. It can also be found in Alpine meadows and the gardens of people who cultivate it, but naturally, it only grows in these areas.
One of the Edelweiss’ most important features is its ability to withstand the extreme cold temperatures in the frozen Alps.
Growing above 9000 ft altitude in rocky places, Edelweiss benefits from a thin layer of small white hairs that protects it against frost and radiation from ultraviolet rays. This also gives color to the leaves, which are otherwise all
The wild edelweiss will grow to 8 inches, and cultivated varieties can reach 16 inches. Wild plants have a soft white velvety bloom with green or yellowish tips in July, which ending September.
Due to its beauty and various human needs, it’s wise that edelweiss has been disappearing in many areas.
Today, we can find edelweiss in fewer quantities than ten years ago. Therefor picking the flower is forbidden by law in many countries.
Edelweiss Name Meaning
The flower of edelweiss is a rare and unique species that lives in the Alps.
This plant has an ancient name! Known as Leontopodium alpinum, derived from Greek for “lion foot,” it’s even been suggested to have inspired Shakespeare’s phrase about roses being able to grow on snow because they were actually referring to this lovely little white flower with yellow centers.
It may also have another popular name: in the 16th century, a physician named Conrad Gessner gave the flower its first official name–Wollblume (“wool flower”).
Since the Alps spans eight countries, each region has their own name for flower – in Romanian it is “Cliffs Flower” while the French and Italians refer to this plant as “Alpine Star.”
The flower is commonly known as Edelweiss. The name originates from the German word Edelweiß, a combination of two other words: “Edel” which means noble and “Weiß” which means white.
The flower name of “Edelweiss” was coined in a study by Austrian naturalist Karl von Moll in 1785.
Popularity for this name only began to ramp up during the mid-19th century and its widespread use is still used today among most botanists.
In at the end of the 19th century, the edelweiss became a symbol of inaccessibility. Most modern researchers say it’s not that difficult to find it.
However, in ancient times it was a time of early alpinism. Young men would climb mountains to prove their courage by bringing back the endangered flower – the edelweiss.
This is one of the main meanings behind its symbolism: courage and nobility.
There are many legends about a man who risked his life to try and prove his love by bringing back the edelweiss flower for a woman he loved. But all of those legends have sad endings.
The man disappears, so she goes to look for him but dies in the mountains. Legend tells that this is an emblem of true love because they never are parted.
Giving edelweiss to your beloved is symbolic of your dedication. In the olden days, people believed that this flower has magical powers and smoke would drive evil spirits away from farms.
Edelweiss is symbolic of the rugged beauty of the Alps. This flower can also be seen prominently on military insignia, designs, coats-of-arms, coins, and stamps.
There are many reasons behind the flower’s prestige over the years. For example, in 1907, the Austro-Hungarian Army made it a symbol on its Alpine Divisions.
But edelweiss has come to be seen negatively as well, and during Hitler’s 3rd Reich it became an emblem of National Socialist Party.
The Myth About Edelweiss’ Inaccessibility
A legend of a young man in love with Edelweiss gave birth to many mysteries and myths about the edelweiss flower.
When he met her, the woman learned about his feelings and she encouraged him to go find a flower to prove how serious he is.
Although he was terrified, the man’s love for his girlfriend was so strong that he braved a treacherous mountain to bring her the flower she loved.
Sadly, he never returned. Edelweiss cried every night looking towards the mountains where her lover had gone before she disappeared into the woods.
This persistent flower was named Edelweiss as a symbol of true and eternal love after the story of an emblematic woman who went out at night naked, in the darkness, to look for her man.
Healing Properties of The Edelweiss Flower
Edelweiss is used in traditional folk medicine. Extracts of the plants are said to have medicinal properties and may be used for several human or cattle diseases, including abdominal disorders, heart disease, tonsilitis, bronchitis and dysentery.
Historically, edelweiss was used for two different purposes. One of these was to mix it in wine mixed with milk and drink the mixture as a self-prescribed remedy.
The other way was to use an extract from boiling its parts in water as a compress.
The cosmetics industry uses edelweiss for its anti-UV properties, while scientists have found that the plant also contains compounds which are beneficial to human skin.