Two Greek words, Chryos (gold) and Anthemon (flower) come together to form the word Chrysanthemum. And yet the flowering chrysanthemum plants of this genus have largely originated from East Asia. Such are the wonders of the plant world!
Chrysanthemums are gorgeous flower-bearing plants from the sunflower family that earlier included a large number of species - to avoid confusion, other genera such as Argyranthemum, Glebionis, Leucanthemopsis, Leucanthemum, Rhodanthemum, and Tanacetum have been separated from Chrysanthemum, and the florist’s chrysanthemum is scientifically known as Chrysanthemum indicum. A huge number of horticultural varieties are known to exist. Common colours are yellow, white and red.
They are perennial herbs or sub-shrubs, which means they do not need to be re-planted every year - they can grow back themselves. Also, while there are varieties and cultivars that flower all season, wild chrysanthemums flower in the autumn and are hence called November Flowers.
Apart from being a gorgeous flower that helps add a dash of bright colour to your garden and give you doses of positivity, Chrysanthemum is drunk as a tea, and yields essential oils with anti-bacterial activity (hence used as a natural food preservative). Various chemicals from the flower have been proven by researchers to play critical roles in treating breast and liver cancer and as an inflammatory agent. Interestingly, the flowers are also the source of a potent insecticide.
Interestingly, a study conducted by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - called NASA’s Clean Air Study showed that Chrysanthemum could rid indoor air of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, trichloroethylene etc. It is, therefore, a NASA-recommended air purifying plant.
Grown relatively easily from seeds, cuttings or root division, Chrysanthemums are full sun lovers that will not do well in shady corners. They will not tolerate waterlogged conditions or nutrient-poor soils, either.