Edelweiss Flower (Leontopodium nivale) Meaning and Symbolism

Whilst not the most likely flower you’ll see in private gardens, this is a captivating, unique flower that makes a great gift, and an unforgettable one at that. 

It’s particularly important to Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, where it grows at high altitudes at around 5,900 to 9,800 feet, in rocky limestone. 

This flower has captured the imagination of people all over the world, and the flower itself is a symbol of the wild beauty of the mountains. 

The edelweiss flower (see also Edelweiss Care Guide) carries a lot of symbolism for such a small bloom. Keep reading to  discover what the edelweiss flower represents, and to find the best occasion to give this flower to a loved one.

What does ‘Edelweiss’ Mean?

The German word ‘Edelweiss’ or ‘Edelweiß’ is a combination of ‘edel’ which means noble, and ‘weiß’ which means white. 

In Romania, it’s called ‘Floare de colț’, which translates to cliffhanger’s flower.

In both the Italian and the French-speaking Alps, the flower is known as the star of the alps.

It’s not common in the wild in many areas, except those with a high altitude, and despite its unusual appearance, it’s part of the Asteraceae family, the daisy family. 

What do Edelweiss Flowers Mean?

Whilst it’s a widely admired flower, the edelweiss bloom carries a nearly universal meaning of devotion.

The main reason for this is that it grows in some of the toughest conditions in the world, in the remotest places of the Alps, where it thrives. Men used to brave these tricky conditions in order to bring the flower to their loved ones. 

The popularity of the Edelweiss flower exploded in 1856, when the Austrian Emperor, Granz Joseph I, was on a mountain hike with his wife Sisi, headed to the Pasterzen Glacier. 

He picked her an Edelweiss flower, and said that it was “The first in my life that I picked myself”, which cemented the meaning of love that this flower still carries.

This flower also represents adventure, sacrifice, and patriotism.

What is the Cultural Significance behind the Edelweiss Flower?

The edelweiss flower has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, to treat heart disease, respiratory problems, abdominal pains and to settle stomachs. 

It’s also been included in dry flower arrangements, where it’s known as the eternal flower.

At one time, the flower was threatened due to too many people collecting it, but it’s now protected by several laws, restricting people from picking it in order to conserve the species.

At the close of the 19th century, this flower became the symbol of mountaineers, as it’s a symbol of perseverance, the beauty of the mountains, and the pure air found at such high altitudes. 

It also featured as a symbol during the world wars for many different groups. It was adopted by anti-Nazi youth groups, known as the Edelweiss Pirates, who supported the Allies and helped deserters from the German Army.  

It’s usually a symbol of a love token, and the flower itself has been widely adopted on coins, notes, logos, and military badges. 

What does an Edelweiss Flower Tattoo Mean?

An edelweiss flower tattoo has many meanings. It represents devotion – a willingness to brave challenging conditions for the sake of a loved one. 

The edelweiss flower is commonly used to represent a relationship, either with a romantic partner or a similarly lifelong devotion that a parent has for their children. 

It’s a symbol of a deep connection with someone, as well as signifying the beauty of the pure mountain landscape, encapsulated in a single flower. 

When Should You Give Someone Edelweiss Flowers?

You can give someone edelweiss flowers at any occasion – but make sure you get them from a reputable, sustainable source that has acquired them legally.

If you fancy a trip to pick them yourself, please read up on the restrictions beforehand, so you don’t get into any trouble!

These flowers are often given to someone to signify your devotion to them, of the loyalty and love that they inspire in you. It represents the knowledge that no relationship is perfect, but you want to stick with them no matter what.  

The edelweiss flower also grows from July until September, making it an apt gift for anyone with a birthday in these months. 

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