Gardening Topic for September 2010
How to Classify Chrysanthemums

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association

By Leslie Fisette, Master Gardener


    We all love mums this time of year. However, mum growers around the world justify their passion by quoting an old Chinese philosopher who said, ”If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow chrysanthemums.”
    These plants were first cultivated in China for medicinal as well as ornamental reasons. The mum was described in Chinese literature as early as 1500 B.C. In about 800 A.D. the mum made its way to Japan, where it was greeted enthusiastically, assigned to the emperor as his official seal and crest, and a mum holiday called the Festival of Happiness was designated.
    In 1752, Linnaeus named the small, daisy-like yellow flower after the Greek words, “chrysos” meaning gold, and “anthemon”, meaning flower. We like to call it by its nickname, mum. It does have a new classification and Latin name, however. The old name of the florist’s mum was Chrysanthemum x morifolium, now known as Dendranthema x grandiflora. And just to be more confusing, the family name is no longer Compositae, but Asteraceae.
Since the 1800s, plant hybridizers in the United States, Europe, and Japan have developed thousands of cultivars in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. The bloom, which appears as a single flower, is actually hundreds of flowers called florets. On a daisy type of bloom, the outside florets have a petal and are called the ray florets. The center florets are called disc florets. All classes of mums have both types of florets but in many classes the disc florets are not apparent. For a better look at this morphology, go to this website: 

The National Chrysanthemum Society has classified blooms into 13 groups so that they can be displayed and judged. Attached is a picture of these classifications. They are described as:

Irregular incurve: Giant blooms with petals loosely incurve and fully closed centers
Reflex: Florets curve downward and overlap; somewhat flattened
Regular incurve: True globe that is equally wide and high; a ball
Decorative: Flattened bloom with short petals
Intermediate incurve: Smaller than irregular incurve, shorter florets and more open
Pompon: Small globe ranging from 1-4 inches with center concealed as all above
Single and Semi-double: Daisy-like flower with one or more rows of ray florets
Anemone: Similar to semi-double but with raised cushion-like center
Spoon: Semi-double with ray florets like spoons at the tips
Quill: Florets are straight and tubular with open tips and no open center
Spider: Long tubular ray florets, which may coil at the ends
Brush/thistle: Fine tubular florets grow parallel to stem like a brush, or flattened and twisted like a thistle
Unclassified: Fits in none or more than one of the other classes

More information can be found at the National Chrysanthemum Society website: 


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Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association