“Edelweiss, edelweiss, bless my homeland forever”. The edelweiss flower, native of the Alpine Mountains, derives its name from German words “Edel”, which means “noble”, and “Weiss” – “white”. In Italy, it is known as “Stella Alpina”, the Alpine Star, with the same meaning in French – “Étoile des Alpes”. The scientific name is a latinisation of the Greek word “leontopodion”, which means “lion’s paws”.
The edelweiss belongs to the daisy or sunflower family and prefers growing in rocky limestone places. In traditional medicine, the edelweiss was used to cure stomach aches and respiratory diseases. The flowers bloom between July and September. It’s a rare and short-lived flower, but when picked and preserved in fine white dry sand, it does not wilt and can be preserved for a long time.
In European culture, the edelweiss is a symbol of pure and romantic love, a flower that young men would give their beloved ones to indicate promise of devotion. Bertold Auerbach in his novel “Edelweiss” (1861) writes that the difficulty for an alpinist to acquire an edelweiss flower is enormous, up to the point of claiming that “the possession of one is a proof of unusual daring”. Auerbach’s novel appeared in English translation in 1869, prefaced with a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“There is a flower known to botanists, one of the same genus with our summer plant called ‘Life-Everlasting’, which grows on the most inaccessible cliffs of the Tyrolese mountains, and which the hunter, tempted by its beauty, and by his love, for it is immensely valued by the Swiss maidens, climbs the cliffs to gather… The Swiss call it Edelweisse, which signifies Noble Purity.
The edelweiss plant population is protected by law. However, the edelweiss flowers we are offering are commercially grown in the clean air of the Rocky Mountains in the western parts of Canada. The flowers are hand-cultivated and raised without pesticides or chemical fertilizers since 1987.