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Edelweiss, the “Eternal Flower”

Edelweiss flower in Austrian, Bavarian mountains

The Alpine Edelweiss (also Leontopodium alpinum) is the only native plant in Central Europe representative of the approximately 40 known Edelweiss species, which are widespread in the mountains of Europe and Asia. It is found in the Alps, the Carpathians and in the Jura, where it settled after the last ice age as an immigrant plant from Asia.

The Alpine Edelweiss belongs to the Asteraceae family and has a long tradition in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as a symbol flower.

Edelweiss grows as a compact perennial that keeps relatively flat on the ground, and is about 20 centimeters in height and width. It carries up to an eight centimeters large flower head on an upright stem.

Edelweiss in South Bavaria
Edelweiss

Leaves

The Alpine Edelweiss has leaves, like the bloom, are covered with short white hair, which gives them a felty look. These fluffy hairs protect the plant from cold and strong UV rays in the mountains

Edelweiss pedals
Edelweiss

The Bloom

The fluffy, bright white flowers of the Edelweiss are legendary. Edelweiss blossoms are extremely durable, which earns it the nickname “Eternal Flower”

The inconspicuous tubular flowers are surrounded by a hairy star of pointed white, irregularly long bracts in variable numbers. The special feature of the Edelweiss flower is its silvery shine. This is caused by the reflection of many thousands of tiny air bubbles in the woolly hairs on the bracts. The silvery-white shimmer attracts nectar-searching pollinator insects such as flies and beetles. The actual flowering time is June to September.

Some Edelweiss can be found isolated with a size of up to twelve centimeters. These are gigantic Edelweiss blooms, which are referred to as “Edelweisskönige” or Kings of the Edelweiss.

Edelweiss flower in South Bavaria or Austria
Edelweiss

Location and Soil

Edelweiss prefers siliceous limestone as substrate and a very sunny location in Southern
Exposure

In nature, the Edelweiss usually grows on steppe-like-grainy Alpine meadows at an altitude of up to 3,000 meters. However, with eager wildflower pickers and souvenir hunters, the small plant has been forced more and more into the cliffs and secluded crevices, which is why the edelweiss is often mistaken for a steep rock plant.


Cultivated Edelweiss

The commercially available Edelweiss varieties bear the names of the mountains, such as ‘Matterhorn’ (dense flower on a long stem), ‘Wendelstein’ (gray-green and strongly branched) or ‘Mont Blanc’ (compact growth with single flowers)

Edelweiss flower pedals
Edelweiss

In addition to the classic Alpine Edelweiss, which is usually sold as Leontopodium alpinum, there is a Chinese dwarf Edelweiss (Leontopodium souliei). This one only grows about five inches high with dozens of small flower stars radiates.

The climate in the garden is problematic for the Edelweiss, it naturally grows at altitudes over 1,800 meters. In shallower areas and dark locations, the Edelweiss tends to turn green.

Edelweiss Branding

For the Alpine culture, the Edelweiss is the logo of the German Alpine Club and the Mountain Rescue. It can also be found on Clothing, an Airline, Schnaps, and general Household items, just to name a view

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I have been living half of my life in Germany, then US, and traveling since then. My passion is cooking, painting and glass mosaic art. I try to re-create recipes I grew up with or tasted while traveling in Europe. To read my newest Blog please "Follow" me on the right by entering your email address, or press „Like“ on the Facebook tab

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