Comes from the Greek "krus anthemon" meaning gold flower. Nowadays they come in all colours.
China and Japan. The Chinese who considered them the highest of flowers, named their royal throne after the flower. European sailors started bringing them back in the 17th century.
All colours including bronze, lime green and brick red, except blue (which are artificially dyed for special events).
All year round.
"Mums" come in a range of shapes and sizes, including spiders, spoons, buttons and blooms. Blooms are normal chrysanthemum varieties which have undergone intensive and specialised growing care. Instead of letting the plant produce side shoots which would bear flowers, all these shoots are removed, leaving only one central stem. This is then similarly treated so that only one flower bud remains. All the energy of the plant is directed into this bud which then grows to a huge size. Blooms come in many different forms, just like dahlias. Some are tight petalled, with all the petals curling upwards. Some have petals which curve and twist like a huge feather hat.
Relatives include chamomile, tansy, marguerite and matricaria.
The chrysanthemum is depicted on Japan's imperial weapon and flag. Japan also has a national festival devoted to the flower (9th Sept).
In Germany, people put white chrysanthemums in their homes at Christmas, to welcome baby Jesus.
Feng Shui adherents believe the chrysanthemum brings laughter and happiness to your home.
The chrysanthemum flower has been known since before 5000 BC in a small yellow form. Ancient China and Japan both have tales explaining how the chrysanthemum originated.
The Chinese legend tells the story of an elderly emperor who had heard about a magic herb that would give him eternal youth. This herb was said to grow on Dragonfly Island and could only be picked by young people. The elderly emperor therefore sent twenty-four children on what proved to be a long and hazardous journey. Much to their dismay, when they finally arrived at the island they found it totally deserted. There was no sign of the magic herb. All they found was a flower - the golden chrysanthemum, which today still symbolises the Chinese people's ties with their country.
Later Mao Tse Tung replaced the imperial golden yellow with the red of the People’s Republic.
The Japanese legend revolves around the god Izanagi and the goddess Iznami, who were sent to earth across a bridge of clouds because there were too many gods in heaven. When she arrived on earth, the goddess created the gods of the wind, the mountains and the sea, but perished miserably in the flames that sprang up while she was creating the god of fire.
Izanagi, who missed her, followed her into a dismal place known as the 'Black Night'. When he finally caught a glimpse of the goddess, he was immediately pursued by an old witch. He fled back to earth, where he decided to cleanse himself in the river.
The items of clothing he dropped onto the ground turned into twelve gods. His jewels turned into flowers, his bracelet into an iris, a second bracelet into a lotus flower and his necklace became a golden chrysanthemum.