(Chrysanthemum indicum)

Interesting Information About Plant:  


Brought into cultivation before 1000 BC, adopted as the national flower of Japan in 910, this plant has always been known as ‘yellow flower’ – krysantemum in Scandinavian languages, chrysantemo in Portuguese,

Spanish and Italian, chrysanthème in French, and, in English, German and Dutch – Chrysanthemum. Then, suddenly in 1961, its name was changed to Dendranthema.

Chrysanthemums were brought to Europe in the late 1600’s and soon caught the attention of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who developed the scientific system of naming plants. He thought the flower of this Asian plant was similar to a corn marigold, a small wildflower of Southern Europe. Because the scientific name of this wildflower is Chrysanthemum coronarium, our garden mum was also called Chrysanthemum. It was given a different, specific name and became Chrysanthemum indicum. Other plants, too, were similar to this European wildflower. Feverfew

was named Chrysanthemum parthenium, tansy became Chrysanthemum vulgare and Shasta daisy was called Chrysanthemum x superbum. Among these plants, the corn marigold was considered to be the epitome of Chrysanthemum-ness, the standard to which all others were compared. In the 250 years since the garden mum became Chrysanthemum indicum, our knowledge of plant structure and relationships has grown considerably. In 1961 Russian botanist Nickolae Tzvelev took another look at corn marigold, mums, Shasta daisies and others and decided they weren’t quite as similar as once thought. Many of the Chrysanthemums were given different names. Because the corn marigold from Europe was the original Chrysanthemum, it retained that name. Shasta daisy became Leucanthemum x superbum, feverfew became Tanacetum parthenium and our popular garden mum became Dendranthema x grandiflorum.

Only the Dutch, adopted the new name. Their publications increasingly referred to the mum as Dendranthema; everyone else still called it Chrysanthemum. Clearly, such a situation could lead to confusion, if not downright hostility. In 1995 a formal proposal was made to the International Botanical Congress, the ruling body that determines scientific plant names. If the plant which defines the essence of Chrysanthemum-ness could be changed from the corn marigold to the garden chrysanthemum, everyone would be satisfied and we could go back to calling a chrysanthemum a Chrysanthemum.  The International Botanical Congress did indeed rule that the garden mum should return to its original name – Chrysanthemum. In a few years, we hope, no one will even remember that the lovely Chrysanthemum lost its name - and then got it back again.

Medicinal Uses:

Relief for Migraine headaches

excellent for eye problems, helping the heart rhythm, antiseptic, skin


Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum indicum

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Asteraceae 

Continent of Origin: Asia

Plant Growth Habit: Upright

Height at Maturity: Between 1- 3 Feet

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Herbaceous That Dies Back In The Winter 

Growth Habitat: Partial Sun

Manner of Culture: Garden (flower)  

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish 

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: Between The Diameter of a Pencil and a Broom-Handle 

Produces Brownish Bark: Yes  

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: No Mature Bark (all green)

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf  

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Less than Length of a Credit

Leaf Complexity: Simple 

Edge of Leaf: Serrated

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate 

Leaf has Petiole: No

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Palmate

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green 

Change in Color of Foliage in October: No Change   

Flowering Season: Tightly Clustered  

Type of Flower: Colorful Flower

Color of Flower: Multicolored 

Shape of Individual Flower: Radially Symmetrical 

Size of Individual Flower: Smaller than a Quarter  

Sexuality: Male and Female on Same Plant

Size of Fruit: Smaller than a Quarter 

Fruit Fleshiness: Dry

Shape of Fruit: Spherical

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brown or Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: No   

Common Name(s): Chrysanthemum

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: none

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: bred to have 21 different colors

Poisonous: Part of Plant   

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): No


Page prepared by: 


Ted Miles   

November 2004


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