American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken, born November 30, 1978, may not have taken home the winning title, but his popularity has blossomed almost as much as that of his birth-month flower, the wildly popular chrysanthemum.
The chrysanthemum, also called the mum, is a flower frequently seen in fall arrangements and flowerbeds. It is a long lasting flower of the daisy family and is available in a variety of forms, including daisy-like, decorative, pompons, or buttons. Its name is derived from the Greek prefix chrys-, which means golden, and the Greek -anthemon, which means flower. Although the chrysanthemum originally appeared only in a golden or yellow color, today it is available in shades of pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, and white, as well as yellow.
It is an ancient flower first cultivated in China during the 15th century B.C. as evident in ancient Chinese poetry and pottery. It was grown not just for its beauty, but also for the many uses of the entire plant. Uses included:
* As an herb thought to contain the power of life.
* As a headache remedy, for which its roots were boiled.
* As an addition to salads (young sprouts and petals).
* As a tea boiled from its leaves.
It is still used in China today to make chrysanthemum tea, a sweet drink that is often used to speed a person’s recovery from influenza. It is also eaten in a stir-fry of chrysanthemum greens, garlic, and chili peppers.
The chrysanthemum later appeared in Japan during the 8th century A.D. where it quickly grew in popularity to the point where the emperor adopted it as his official crest and seal. Today in Japan, the Order of the Chrysanthemum is the highest Order of Chivalry that can be bestowed and the chrysanthemum has its own day called the Festival of Happiness.
The chrysanthemum was introduced to the United States during colonial times. Today it is often used in fall flower arrangements and corsages for Homecoming dances and football games. Here the chrysanthemum holds the reigning title as the top most commercially produced flower and the number one most grown potted plant.
While the U.S. uses the chrysanthemum as a flower for happy occasions, in parts of Europe and in Japan, it is a symbol of death used almost exclusively for funerals and on graves.
If he’s lucky, Clay Aiken’s popularity of one of American Idol’s best-loved losers will continue to rise through the years just as the chrysanthemum has widened its appeal to world-wide fame.
About The Author
Wesley Berry is the President of Wesley Berry Flowers, a successful multi-million dollar business that was established in 1946. He is also the Headmaster of the Professional Florists’ Institute, a floral design school located in Michigan. Visit Wesley Berry Flowers on the web at http://www.800wesleys.com.