Edelweiss is Austria's national anthem

The edelweiss: the star of the Alps

The herbaceous plant with its white, felty star is popular and sought after in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But two Americans made her world famous.

Text: Inga Dora Meyer

High up in the Alps, at dizzying heights, grows a small, almost inconspicuous flower that has cult status: the edelweiss - one of the most famous and most symbolic alpine flowers. It is rare and difficult to access, and if it is picked it will retain its shape and color for centuries. There is even a song about the star of the Alps. It begins with the words: "Edelweiss, Edelweiss, / You greet me every morning / I see you, / I'm happy / And forget’ my worries. / Decorate the homeland / Beautiful and white / You bloom like the stars. / Edelweiss, Edelweiss, / Oh, I love you so much. ”The curious thing about it: The song was written and composed by two Americans, Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein (text). Neither of them were in the Alps, nor have they ever seen edelweiss in person. Nevertheless, many people believe that the song "Edelweiß" is an Austrian folk song. Or even, as Ronald Reagan once assumed when he received the Austrian Federal President Rudolf Kirchschläger with this song, the Austrian national anthem.

The edelweiss is not even a European plant. After the last ice age it migrated from the high steppes of Central Asia to the Alps. Relatives of edelweiss can be found in the high steppe areas of Asia.

Proven remedy

In this country it was popular as a medicinal herb. It used to be boiled with milk and honey and used for stomach ache. This usage is also reflected in the Bavarian popular name "Bauchwehbleaml" (bellywehblümchen). Buddhist doctors still use the plant as medicine today.

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