Q: What are chrysanthemums?
A: Chrysanthemums (often called mums, chrysanths or xants) are perennial flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae (previously Compositae). For a time the genus name was changed to Dendranthema but the original term has now been restored. Numerous native species have been identified and several thousand named varieties have been developed. Chrysanthemums are native to Northern Europe and Asia. The name “chrysanthemum” was derived by Linnaeus from the Greek words “chrysos” (gold) and “anthemum” (flower). Many colors other than gold or yellow are now available as cultivated varieties. Chrysanthemum blooms are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of producing a seed. The disk florets are in the center of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female productive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers, as they possess both male and female reproductive organs. Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China as early as the 15th century BC and became popular in Japan after the 8th century AD. They were introduced to the West in the 17th century.
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- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service