First of all, you've probably heard the song "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. My family loves this song and my grandpa, whose family came from Switzerland, could whistle this and play it on the harmonica beautifully. I sure loved hearing it and thankfully, he recorded himself playing it before he died, so all of his children and grandchildren can still hear him play it. (Great family history project, by the way). So, I think of my grandpa when I think about Edelweiss.
Anyway, Edel means Noble and weiss means White. The flower is white with fuzzy petals and a yellow center. It belongs to the sunflower family. Here is a picture of what it looks like.
Edelweiss grows high up in the mountains and if you read about it in encyclopedias, you'll learn that it grows best in limestone at an altitude of 2000-2900 m. While doing some research about this flower, I learned that because it grows at such a height, men would climb mountains to pick this flower for the woman they loved. It was a dangerous feat and showed how much they loved the woman. *sigh* I can't help being a hopeless romantic sometimes. :) On a side note, don't pick this flower if you're over in Europe-it is a protected flower and it's illegal to pick. Good thing I learned that during the first few days of my internship trip in Switzerland because before going over there I thought it would be awesome to pick some to bring home. That could have been awkward.
I'm also wondering if I might be able to plant these? Hmmm....I think I may have to try that out and post about my experience, but if you're interested now, I found a pretty good link about growing Edelweiss right here.
Now what are the flora and fauna that grew in your ancestors' home towns?