Leontopodium alpinum is much loved as the traditional symbol of the Alps and the unofficial national flower of Switzerland. Commonly known as Edelweiss, the plants have matt, grey-green foliage, which makes the perfect backdrop for the remarkable white starfish shaped felted bracts which can be up to 10cm (4in) across. The real flowers are tiny and pale yellow, tucked away in the centre of the shaggy daisy-like heads.
Generally found in rocky limestone places and at altitudes from 1700 to 2700 metres, it is well adapted to climatic extremes. Receiving protection from drought, ravages of winds and the potentially damaging sunshine by the felt like covering of its leaves and deep fibrous roots.
Very cold hardy, the top of the plant will die in the winter; the crown below the soil will stay alive to sprout new growth in the spring.
Sowing: Sow February to May or September to October.
Sow seed on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. The seeds need light to germinate, so cover seed with the lightest sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged.
Germination should occur in less than two weeks, when large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out after all risk of frost, 30cm (12in) apart. For best results, provide gritty compost in full sun. Overwinter the autumn sowings indoors and plant out the following spring.
In winter, do not cut the green or dead foliage as it is needed to keep for cover of the living portion, only snip old foliage when new growth appears in the spring
To collect seeds, nip off the ripe seed heads, but leave stalks in place.
In a very well-drained, gritty soil in full sun, Edelweiss survives for a few years but is never long-lived, for this reason it is often treated as biennial. Mature plants can be divided carefully in spring, or easily raised from seed.
Alpine Beds, Walls and Rockeries, Pots & Containers.
It is not toxic, and has been used traditionally in folk medicine as a remedy against abdominal and respiratory diseases.
The scientific name, Leontopodium means "lion's paw", being derived from Greek words leon (lion) and podion (diminutive of pous, foot).
The species name alpinum means 'of the Alps' and refers to its native habitat.
The common name Edelweiss comes from German edel meaning noble and weiß meaning white.
Its white colour is considered a symbol of purity, and holds a Latin as well as Greek name, floarea reginei (Queen's flower). The plant is protected in some countries: Bulgaria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and Romania.
Legend & Folklore:
According to Alpine folklore, suitors proved their love by climbing high crags of the Alps in search of the flower. Tragically, many fell to their death or died of exposure to the weather. The Edelweiss is still worn today and featured on German beer steins as a decorative symbol of love, bravery, strength, and dedication. Its popularity with the German and Austrian emperors earned the edelweiss the title "Flower of Emperors and Kings"
The Edelweiss flower is used as the symbol or logo of many German and Austrian brands, companies and societies. It appears on the Austrian two-euro-cent coins and on the Romanian 50 Lei banknote. During World War I (1915) the Edelweiss was granted to the German alpine troops, for their bravery. Today it is still the insignia of the Austrian, Polish, and German alpine troops.
The song "Edelweiss"
"Edelweiss" is a song from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music which is set in Austria. The song is sung by Captain von Trapp to express his sense of loss in song as he bids farewell to the Austria he knew and loved.
The great popularity of the song has led many of its audience to believe that it is an Austrian folk song or even the official national anthem.
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
Bless my homeland forever
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 750 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Leontopodium Species alpinum Common Name Edelweiss Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Mid Summer to Early Autumn Foliage Aromatic, Silver/Grey Height 15-30cm (6-12in) Spread 22-30cm (9-12in) Position Well drained soil in Full Sun