"If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow chrysanthemums." Chinese Proverb
The chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb and is described in writings as early as the 15th Century B.C. In fact, Chinese pottery depicted the chrysanthemum much as we know it today.
As an herb, it was believed to have the power of life. Legend has it that the boiled roots were used as a headache remedy; young sprouts and petals were eaten in salads; and leaves were brewed for a festive drink.
The ancient Chinese name for chrysanthemum is "Chu." The Chinese city of Chu-Hsien (which means Chrysanthemum City) was named in honor of the flower.
Around the 8th century A.D., the chrysanthemum appeared in Japan. So taken were the Japanese with this flower that they adopted a single-flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and the official seal of the Emperor.
The chrysanthemum in the crest is a 16-floret variety called "Ichimonjiginu."
Family seals for many prominent Japanese families also contain some type of chrysanthemum. This is called a Kikumon — "Kiku" means chrysanthemum and "Mon" means crest.
In Japan, the Imperial Order of the Chrysanthemum is the highest Order of Chivalry. Japan also has a National Chrysanthemum Day, which is called the Festival of Happiness.
The chrysanthemum was first introduced into the Western world during the 17th Century.
In 1753, Karl Linnaeus, the reknowned Swedish botanist, combined the Greek words chrysos (gold) with anthemon, (flower). Linnaeus was the founder of that branch of taxonomy dealing with plants and including the science of classification and identification.
Experts say this is probably an accurate description of the ancient species, as it also points out the mum's need for sunlight.
The earliest illustrations of mums show them as small, yellow, daisy-like flowers.
Source: National Chrysanthemum Society USA
For more on the history of chrysanthemums, click here.