Edelweiss was once used as a “holy herb” to chase away evil spirits and in some Alpine valleys it was popular as a remedy for diarrhoea. With the discovery of the Alps as a tourist destination, Edelweiss became widely known and loved. During the era of Romanticism, it became a symbol of courage, bravery and love, and young men picked the most beautiful Edelweiss for their beloveds as proof of their unconditional love.
Edelweiss is a very well-known plant – its white felt-like leaves are not only pretty to look at, the white furry surface also prevents the plant from drying out and protects it against intense UV radiation in the mountains. Edelweiss is common on the Gornergrat and can be found almost everywhere in Valais. The species is protected and picking is forbidden.
Edelweiss is a member of the Asteraceae family and therefore a relative of sunflowers and daisies.
Facts and Figures
The Edelweiss’ distinctive star-shaped inflorescences are why it is often used as a symbolic flower. For instance, the flower is part of the logo of Switzerland Tourism and Edelweiss Air. Although this plant is often considered a typical Alpine plant, it originates from Asia.
There are many myths surrounding this plant. For example, it was believed it was magical and it was also used in medicine. Even today, Edelweiss is used in many cosmetic products, particularly skincare and sunscreen lotions.
In Switzerland, Edelweiss is widespread in the Limestone Alps. It prefers to grow on barren cliffs where there is little competition. If you want to see the flower outside the Alpine Garden, it is therefore best to look for it growing in poor, calcareous soil. Typically found growing among patches of bluegrass, the species can be found on the Gornergrat, especially on the south-facing slopes above the Gorner Glacier. more information