Chrysanthemum blooms are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of
producing a seed. The disk florets are in the center of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female productive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers as they possess both male and female reproductive organs.
Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC. An ancient Chinese city (Xiaolan Town of Zhongshan City) was named Ju-Xian, meaning "chrysanthemum city". The plant is particularly significant during the Double Ninth Festival. It is believed that the flower may have been brought to Japan in the 8th century CE, and the Emperor adopted the flower as his official seal. There is a "Festival of Happiness" in Japan that celebrates the flower.
Chrysanthemums are broken into two basic groups, Garden Hardy and Exhibition. Garden hardy mums are new perennials capable of being wintered over in the ground in most northern latitudes. Exhibition varieties are not usually as sturdy. Garden hardies are defined by their ability to produce an abundance of small blooms with little if any mechanical assistance (i.e., staking) and withstanding wind and rain. Exhibition varieties on the other hand require staking, over-wintering in a relatively dry cool environment, sometimes with the addition of night lights.
The Exhibition mums varieties can be used to create many amazing plant forms; Large disbudded blooms, spray forms, as well as many artistically trained forms, such as: Thousand Bloom, Standard (trees), Fans, Hanging Baskets, Topiary, Bonsai, and Cascades.
Yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers of the species C. morifolium are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia. The resulting beverage is known simply as "chrysanthemum tea" (菊花茶, pinyin: júhuā chá, in Chinese). Chrysanthemum tea has many medicinal uses, including an aid in recovery from influenza. In Korea, a rice wine flavored with chrysanthemum flowers is called gukhwaju (국화주).
Chrysanthemum leaves are steamed or boiled and used as greens, especially in Chinese cuisine. Other uses include using the petals of chrysanthemum to mix with a thick snake meat soup (蛇羹) in order to enhance the aroma.
Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum [or Tanacetum] cinerariaefolium) is economically important as a natural source of insecticide. The flowers are pulverized, and the active components called pyrethrins, contained in the seed cases, are extracted and sold in the form of an oleoresin. This is applied as a suspension in water or oil, or as a powder. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects, and inhibit female mosquitoes from biting. When not present in amounts fatal to insects, they still appear to have an insect repellent effect. They are harmful to fish, but are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides, except in consumer airborne backyard applications. They are non-persistent, being biodegradable and also breaking down easily on exposure to light. They are considered to be amongst the safest insecticides for use around food.
In some countries of Europe (e.g., France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Croatia), chrysanthemums are symbolic of death and are only used for funerals or on graves - similarly, in China, Japan and Korea, white chrysanthemums are symbolic of lamentation and/or grief. In some other countries, it represents honesty. In the United States, the flower is usually regarded as positive and cheerful. [source : Chrysanthemums]