[size=75]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [/size]
Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), one of the best-known European mountain flowers, belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The name comes from German edel (meaning noble) and weiß (meaning white). The scientific name, Leontopodium means “lion’s paw”, being derived from Greek words leon (lion) and podion (diminutive of pous, foot).
Flowering stalks of edelweiss can grow to a size of 3-20 cm (in cultivation, up to 40 cm). The leaves appear woolly because of the covering of white hairs. The flowers are felted and woolly with white hairs, with characteristic bloom consisting of five to six small yellow flower heads (5 mm) surrounded by leaflets in star form. The flowers are in bloom between July and September. It is unequally distributed and prefers rocky limestone places at 2000-2900 m altitude. It is not toxic, and has been used traditionally in folk medicine as a remedy against abdominal and respiratory diseases.
Edelweiss is a protected plant in many countries, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain (Ordesa National Park), Slovakia (Tatra National Park), Slovenia (since 1898), Austria (since 1886) and Romania (since 1933).
It usually grows in inaccessible places, which is why it is associated in Slovenia with mountaineering. Its white colour is considered in Switzerland a symbol of purity and due to its beauty, it obtained its Romanian name, floarea reginei (Queen’s flower).
close-up of the flower heads