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Edelweiss facts for kids

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Leontopodium alpinum 280808.jpg
Scientific classification
L. alpinum
Binomial name
Leontopodium alpinum
Cass., 1822

Edelweiss is a well-known Europe mountain flower. The scientific name is a latinisation of the Greek leontopódion, "lion's paw."


Leaves and flowers are covered with white hairs and look woolly. Each Edelweiss bloom has five to six small yellow flower heads surrounded by leaflets in a star shape. The flowers are in bloom between July and September.


The plant's leaves and flowers are covered with white hairs, and appear woolly (tomentose). Flowering stalks of edelweiss can grow to a size of 3–20 centimetres (1–8 in) in the wild, or, up to 40 cm (16 in) in cultivation. Each bloom consists of five to six small yellow clustered spikelet-florets (5 mm, 0.20 in) surrounded by fuzzy white "petals" (technically, bracts) in a double-star formation. The flowers bloom between July and September.


Leontopodium nivale is considered a least concern species by the IUCN. The population of this species declined due to overcollection, but is now protected by laws, ex situ conservation and occurrence in national parks.


Leontopodium nivale is grown in gardens for its interesting inflorescence and silver foliage. The plants are short lived and can be grown from seed.

Chemical constituents

Compounds of different classes, such as terpenoids, phenylpropanoids, fatty acids and polyacetylenes are reported in various parts of edelweiss. Leoligin was reported as the major lignan constituent.

Symbolic uses

No. 5. Dianthus silvestris, Gnaphalium leontopodium, (Edelweiss.), chromolithograph by Helga von Cramm, with hymn by F. R. Havergal, 1877
No.5, Dianthus silvestris, and Gnaphalium leontopodium, (Edelweiss), chromolithograph by Helga von Cramm, with hymn by F. R. Havergal, 1877.

In the 19th century, the edelweiss became a symbol of the rugged purity of the Alpine region and of its native inhabitants.

In Berthold Auerbach's novel Edelweiss (1861), the difficulty for an alpinist to acquire an edelweiss flower was exaggerated to the point of claiming: "the possession of one is a proof of unusual daring." This idea at the time was becoming part of the popular mythology of early alpinism. 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', a Gnaphalium like that, which grows on the most inaccessible cliffs of the Tyrolese mountains, where the chamois dare hardly venture, and which the hunter, tempted by its beauty and by his love (for it is immensely valued by the Swiss maidens), climbmivas the cliffs to gather, and is sometimes found dead at the foot, with the flower in his hand. It is called by botanists the Gnaphalium leontopodium, but by the Swiss EDELWEISS, which signifies NOBLE PURITY."
Before 1914
  • in the Swiss army, the highest ranks (brigadier general and higher) have badges in the form of edelweiss flowers, where other military branch badges would have stars
  • The edelweiss was established in 1907 as the sign of the Austrian-Hungarian alpine troops by Emperor Franz Joseph I. These original three Regiments wore their edelweiss on the collar of their uniform. During World War I (1915), the edelweiss was granted to the German alpine troops, for their bravery. Today, it is still the insignia of the Austrian, Polish, Romanian, and German alpine troops
World Wars era
  • The song Stelutis alpinis (Friulian for "Little edelweisses"), written by Arturo Zardini when he was an evacuee due to World War I, is now considered the unofficial anthem of Friuli
  • The song Es War Ein Edelweiss was written by Herms Niel for soldiers during World War II
  • The edelweiss was a badge of the Edelweiss Pirates: the anti-Nazi youth groups in the Third Reich. It was worn on the clothes (e.g., a blouse or a suit)
  • The edelweiss flower was the symbol of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS Gebirgsjäger, or mountain rangers, worn as a metal pin on the left side of the mountain cap, on the band of the service dress cap, and as a patch on the right sleeve. It is still the symbol of the mountain brigade in the German army today
  • The World War II Luftwaffe unit, Kampfgeschwader 51 (51st Bomber Wing) was known as the Edelweiss Wing
  • The edelweiss is represented as the favorite flower of Adolf Hitler's, in the recording "Adolf Hitlers Lieblingsblume ist das schlichte Edelweiß" (1934), sung by Harry Steier
After 1945
  • The edelweiss flower is a common symbol worn by today's United States Army's 1st Battalion 10th Special Forces Group Airborne Soldiers. The 1-10th SFG(A) Soldiers adopted the symbol under the command of (Ret.) Col. Aaron Banks after they occupied the former Waffen SS officer school (Junkerschule) at Flint Kaserne
  • A song entitled "Edelweiss" was written for Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The Sound of Music (1959)
  • Since 2002, the Austrian two cent coin has depicted an edelweiss
  • From 1959 to 2001, the one schilling coin depicted a bunch of three flowers
  • It is the symbol of the Bulgarian Tourist Union and the Bulgarian Mountain Control and Lifeguard Service
  • It is also the symbol of the Swiss national tourism organisation
  • It is featured on the Romanian fifty lei note
  • An Austrian brand of beer is named Edelweiß
  • The edelweiss is used in the logotypes of several alpine clubs such as the Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alpine Club) or the Österreichischer Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Club). The edelweiss is also used in the logotype of the Union of International Mountain Leader Associations (UIMLA).
  • In Asterix in Switzerland (1970), the plot is driven by a quest to find edelweiss in the Swiss mountains and bring a bloom back to Gaul to cure a poisoned Roman quaestor
  • Edelweiss Air, an international airline based in Switzerland, is named after the flower, which also appears in its logo
  • "Bring me Edelweiss" is the best-known song of the music group Edelweiss
  • Polish professional ice hockey team MMKS Podhale Nowy Targ use an edelweiss as their emblem
  • Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is a military resort located in Garmisch, Germany

Symbolic use-image gallery

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Leontopodium alpinum para niños

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