The meaning of the edelweiss flower links back to its history, folklore and uses.
The Edelweiss flower’s scientific name is Leontopodium nivale or Leontopodium Alpinum and it is part of the Sunflower family.
It is also commonly called Queen of the Alpine Flowers and Ice Flower.
The word Edel means noble while weiss means white. This was probably a name coined for 19th century tourists that visited the Alps.
In this blog let’s explore the Edelweiss flower meaning, its origins and link to German soldiers.
What does the Edelweiss flower symbolise?
The symbolic meanings of the edelweiss flower are nobility, noble purity and daring. The possible powers that relate to the flower are courage, invisibility and power.
Origins of the Flower
The Edelweiss also called Alpine Cudweed. It grows on the Swiss mountains on the line of perpetual snow. The flower was brought down by travellers as a proof that they have reached that altitude.
The act of gathering of the flower was considered as daring and courageous which is where the Edelweiss flower acquires one of its meanings.
It was also considered as a proof of devotion by Swiss maidens when their lovers offered them this flower.
A possible power of this flower is invisibility and this was perhaps due to the flower enveloping itself and only blooming on rocks. This prevented its fragile and delicate nature to be exposed.
Is the Edelweiss flower rare? Extinction and Protection
The popularity of the flower led to its near extinction in different districts. In order to prevent this both the Germans and the Tyrolese Alpine Club imposed fines for plucking the flower.
The Austrian Alpine club also imposed restrictions on its members. They forbade the continuation of a custom that involved wearing a sprig of Edelweiss in their hats.
Bergano herdsmen who came from the Italian side of the Alps were the biggest threat to the Edelweiss flower. They would come up the Alps at the beginning of the season and stay there with their flocks until snow began to fall.
While being there they would pluck the Edelweiss flower by the roots. They would then proceed to dispose of the flowers to travellers.
This has led the communes of the Upper Engadine to take the plant under their protection. Henceforth, anyone who would try to sell the plant would be subject to a fine.
The Edelweiss flower is still abundant in regions that are lesser known as touristic routes and also at Pontresina where is used as food for cattle.
Another name for the Edelweiss was Cotonnier or Lion’s Foot due to the resemblance of the hairy flower to the foot of a lion.
Edelweiss Flower and German Soldiers
The Edelweiss flower was the favourite flower of Adolf Hitler and it eventually became a symbol used by Nazis.
The German Wehrmacht formed an alpine unit and used the flower as part of their insignia on their uniforms.
However, by the end of World War 2 the Edelweiss flower became a symbol of the German resistance against Nazism.
They were called the “Edelweiss pirates” and the term encompassed different youth groups from Germany.
Those groups were usually males between the ages of 16 and 18 who refused to participate in Nazi youth groups.
They wore an unconventional style of dress and to distinguish themselves they wore a pin of an Edelweiss flower on their lapels.
This again reflects the Edelweiss flower meaning of daring and also courage.
Edelweiss flower benefits and uses
The Edelweiss flower meaning also links to its magical uses. It helps in manifesting dreams and also to avoid being stabbed.
In order to manifest your dreams using the Edelweiss flower you must first acquire the plant. Then place the plant on your altar and begin to nurture and care for it.
While nurturing the plant also open up to the dream you wish to manifest. When the flowers finally open imagine that your dreams are also unfolding too.
The Edelweiss flower was also used in traditional medicine in order to treat diarrhoea. Additionally, it was mixed with butter and honey to treat respiratory problems.
It was also used in skin care products since it contained antioxidant that would help to slow the ageing of the skin.
It was a Swiss custom to place wreaths of the Edelweiss flower over porches and windows during Ascension Day.
The flower was also called a lightning plant since it was used as a protective charm against lightning.
Edelweiss is a plant dedicated to St Christopher and also viewed as a symbol of immortality.
If you enjoyed this blog then make sure to read our other blogs in the Winter Flowers category.
Dietz, S. T. (2022). The complete language of flowers the complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history – pocket edition. Wellfleet Press.
Folkard, R. (1884). Plant lore, legends, and lyrics. Embracing the myths, traditions, superstitions, and folk-lore of the plant kingdom. S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington.
Harlay, V. C. (2017). Living in Vaud. Lulu.com.
Sahgal, L. (2015). Hans and Sophie Scholl. Rosen Young Adult. https://books.google.at/books?id=sx5hDwAAQBAJ
Watts, D., & Watts, D. C. (2007). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press.
Deena Bsingh, a UK-born, Mauritius-raised content writer, is a dedicated explorer of the ancient world’s hidden treasures. Armed with classical studies knowledge and a decade of spiritual immersion, Deena delves deep into the wellspring of ancient wisdom. Her illuminating writings on flower meanings and culinary history are imbued with the profound insights she has gathered on her journey. Through her Medium articles, she guides readers on transformative journeys that bridge the gap between ancient cultures and contemporary consciousness, offering a rich tapestry of understanding that endures through time.