We’re off to the land of fondue, chocolate, and The Alps – Switzerland! Switzerland is known for The Three Symbolic Flowers of the Alps: Edelweiss, Alpine Rose, and Blue Gentian. These three flowers appear in bouquets, embroidery, stained glass – pretty much everywhere!
One of the best known European mountain flowers actually originated in the Himalayas! Belonging to the sunflower family, Edelweiss is the national flower of Switzerland. The scientific name of the flower is Leontopodium which means "lion's paw". The flowers are felted and woolly with white hairs, with a
characteristic bloom consisting of five to six small yellow flower heads surrounded by leaflets in star form. The word Edelweiss literally translates to ‘noble white’. It is also sometimes called a Wollblume (‘Wool Flower’) or Klein Löwenfuss (‘Little Lion Foot’).
Originally, Edelweiss could only be found at very high altitudes, up in the Alps where it survived the harshest of winters. That is why this little flower is associated with strength and toughness.
It also came to be a symbol of courage, bravery and love; because of how high up the Edelweiss grew, if your partner were to bring you an Edelweiss flower, it would mean they have climbed up to a very high altitude and possibly risked life and limb to get it! Nowadays, however, the Edelweiss can be found much lower down - but is still a symbol of courage and love.
Alpine Rose is the second of the trio of flowers used in Swiss symbolism, be it for weddings, funerals, or national pride. It’s not actually a rose, but Rhododendrum ferrugineum! Carpeting the Alps in shades of red and pink, Alpine Rose has been used for medicinal purposes, such as skincare, for centuries; but when paired with Edelweiss and Blue Gentian, it becomes a colorful red counterpoint - symbolizing heart and hope - to the white and blue bouquet that is seen all over Switzerland for so many life events.
Blue Gentian, a trumpet-shaped blue bloom, low ground cover of the geranium family, symbolizes determination and passion. A bud or bouquet of Blue Gentian given by a significant other lets the recipient know of the depth and resiliency of feeling their lover has for them. The two countries with the strongest symbolism behind Blue Gentian are Switzerland and Japan: both countries value determination highly!
Next month, we’re off to a land renowned for flowers – The Netherlands!