Chrysanthemum witchery is
crystal clear so glimmering
Like an emperor’s gold verdict
proclaiming only charity and
Empathy, mercifully medicinal
So snug inside cook books and
Herbal journals and balms and
Its choker of calm sun-caressed
Serenity is always a blessing!
Chrysanthemums wear nature’s gold paint proudly and in flower shows make fat, round bowls of blessings, straight from the Universe. The name comes from the Greek – chrysos meaning gold and anthos. Flower. Related to the aster, daisy and dandelion, chrysanthemums were cultivated in China about 500 B.C. and arrived in Japan in 800 A.D. Brought to Europe in 1688 they wilted. Then they were brought to England in 1808 and began to flourish in gardens and green houses. A plant hunter named Robert Fortune was sent to China in 1843 by the Royal Horticultural Society from where he got outdoor flowering varieties now so gloriously growing everywhere.
These flowers can always surprise you by being small as buttons, huge and fat as small elephants or curly, swirling, whirling parachutes so that they always cheer you up. They can be eaten as well! Japanese chrysanthemum leaves are sold in shops to be used in the kitchen. The leaves of C. morifolium can be eaten and are tasty when cooked with other greens and soy sauce and served over rice!
You should pick the flowers early in the morning, wash them, pat the petals dry and refrigerate them in a plastic bag till you need them. When you pull off the petals remove the appendage attached to the flower base.
Try them in a salad, blanch one second, drain and dry and add a pinch of sugar or honey. You can also add them to fruit, green or potato salad, to chicken or substitute for violets in violet salad, adding one half teaspoon of honey to the dressing. Chrysanthemum petals give flavor and color to cream soups, spinach or egg soup, or hard-boiled eggs etc. In fact you can innovate and try them out in anything you please.
The dried plants and even the flowers of the common daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum boiled up with some honey, have been recommended by herbalists to cure asthma attacks!
Another variety of the Chrysanthemum called Pyrethrum is also used as a safe insecticide to be rid of garden pests. Organic gardeners value its powers. Its flowers are dried and powdered; and used to drive away pests.
It is hard not to fall in love with a flower that is ready to fight asthma for you!