A short history of chrysanthemums
When you think of autumn flowers, one of the first ones that come to mind is the chrysanthemum. Years ago, I came across a history of chrysanthemum cultivation, published by the University of Virginia. It provides a good example of a plant that was originally found in another part of the world, and was eventually brought to the Americas.
Chrysanthemums originated in China, and were mentioned by Confucius around 500 B.C. They were introduced to Japan in the 4th century A.D., for medicinal purposes. But it wasn’t until 1688 that traders brought a few plants back to Europe. Those few plants died, and no further efforts to import chrysanthemums were made until 1789.
In that year, one single plant made the voyage from China to France, and this time the plant survived. Chrysanthemums were ideally suited to the climate around Marseilles, and soon the plant was propagated and sold. A few years later, exhibitions were being held.
The first record of mums being brought to the United States is in 1798, when John Stevens of New Jersey imported them. They soon became popular, and by 1830, they were being exhibited in flower shows in Boston.