Leontopodium alpinum

Many thanks to CherriesWalks of the UBC Botanical Garden Forums for sharing today’s photograph. If I recall correctly, it’s the first photograph from Switzerland. The original was posted in this thread on the garden’s photos & art forums. Much appreciated!

Leontopodium, broken down, means “lion’s paw”, but I don’t think this is ever used as the common name. Instead, the German name for the plant is used — edel, meaning “noble” and weiß, meaning “white” — hence, edelweiss.

As is well-known, this is a species of alpine areas in south central and southeastern Europe. Overharvesting for use as a dried flower, plus its symbolic value, has led to it becoming a protected plant in many countries in the area.

Wikimedia Commons has an excellent set of additional images of Leontopodium alpinum, including an 1885 illustration.

Leontopodium alpinum

7 responses to “Leontopodium alpinum”

  1. elizabeth a airhart

    edelweiss, edelweiss
    every morning you greet me
    small and white
    clean and bright
    you look happy to meet me
    blossom of snow
    may you bloom and grow
    bloom and grow forever.
    edelweiss, edelweiss

  2. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Thanks for the photo, and the links, for this lovely little flower. And thanks, Elizabeth, for providing the song.
    My German relatives are very fond of this flower, and I grew up hearing my mother sing this song (in German). Consequently, I’ve always had a latent curiosity about the edelweiss, which I now have the opportunity to indulge and satisfy!

  3. Deborah Lievens

    What a treat to get this BPotD. I grew up singing along with the Sound of Music, but never gave the plant another thought. I never dreamed it was in the Aster family. Thanks.

  4. Meghan S

    Are those fuzzy white structures bracts or ray flowers or ?

  5. Michael F

    They’re bracts, surrounding a set of (in this instance) 7 capitula [flowerheads].

  6. heidi

    I love this flower so. Being of German decent, it was naturally my first choice for a symbolic tattoo.

  7. Alexander Jablanczy

    It would be a good language lesson for the rest of us to read the song in the original. You cant appreciate the rhyme except in it.
    Even more fun would be the musical notation but I doubt the program would permit the graphic.
    Now would one want a simulacrum of the odour of flowers which is a major part of their charm. Ozena is quite an unpleasant experience and mostly untreatable like floriphilia or florimania.

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