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Background & General Info

Chrysanthemums are herbaceous perennial flowering plants characterized by rapid speciation and substantial variations in morphology and ploidy. The genus comprises nearly 40 species, the majority of which are widely spread across East Asia, especially in China. On a global scale, commercial chrysanthemum cultivars have been developed as economically important cut flowers and pot plants. [1] In fact, chrysanthemum enjoys great ornamental value in the world flower industry to the extent that it is considered one of the ten most popular traditional flowers in China and one of the four most popular cut flowers worldwide. Nearly 20,000 chrysanthemum cultivars exist currently, and about 90% of these cultivars were produced via traditional hybridization breeding technique. [2] Chrysanthemum constitutes the “Four Gentlemen” of China, along with the plum blossom, the orchid, and the bamboo, and has been considered a symbol of nobility. [3]


Some chrysanthemums still look similar nowadays to daisies, but others have been hybridized to become more showy and come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and floral colors such as pink, purple, red, yellow, bronze or orange, and white. The leaves of chrysanthemums are alternately arranged and are divided into leaflets with toothed or sometimes smooth edges, whereas their petals form a dense cluster and are essentially florets, which can be of two types: ray florets and disc florets. In a few varieties, the disc and ray florets differ in coloration, with some having ray florets that are two-colored on the face and reverse sides. [4]

History & Traditional Use

The first cultivation of chrysanthemum as a flowering herb dates back as early as the 15th century B.C. in China. Writings by then mentioned the pottery of this flowering plant similar to what is known to be today. Tao Qian, an influential Chinese poet of the mid-Six Dynasties period (approximately 220–589 CE), has been said to favor chrysanthemum. [3] The ancient Chinese name for chrysanthemum is “chu,” and the Chinese city of Chu-Hsien, or Chrysanthemum City, was named after the flower. During the 8th century A.D., chrysanthemum was introduced to Japan, which took a liking to the flower, as evidenced by their adoption of a single-flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal of the Emperor and their celebration of the National Chrysanthemum Day, which is also called the Festival of Happiness. In the 17th century, chrysanthemum started to appear in Western countries. In 1753 the celebrated Swedish botanist Karl Linnaeus named the plant from the Greek words “chrysos” and “anthemon,” meaning gold and flower, respectively, pointing out the small, yellow daisy-like features of the flowers in their earliest illustrations. [4]

General Herbal Uses

Chrysanthemum has long been described as an herb with the power of life, especially in Chinese culture. Its roots are boiled and provided as a remedy for headache. On the other hand, its young sprouts and petals are consumed in salads for their nutritional value, and the leaves are brewed for a festive drink. [4] In Tunisia, different Chrysanthemum species are recognized to possess beneficial properties and are used in traditional medicine. [5] Dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum morifolium are regarded as an oriental drug for eye disorders in Japan and China, and the herbal tea derived from them is known in Chinese folklore as “Ju Hua.” Chrysanthemum in general appears to exert antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antispirochetal, and anti-inflammatory activities, which are accredited to its chemical compound content that includes flavonoids, sesquiterpenoids, triterpenoids, and quinic acid caffeates. [6]

The flowers of Chrysanthemum zawadskii var. latilobum are conventionally used as traditional remedy for inflammatory diseases, gastroenteric disorders, bladder-related disorders, and hypertension, and their extracts have been claimed to exert various pharmacological properties, such as anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities. [7] On the other hand, Chrysanthemum indicum is a broadly used garden herb for the treatment of immune-related and infectious disorders and hypertension symptoms in East Asia countries, especially in Korean and Chinese medicinal practice. Its flowers are orally consumed as tea to relieve inflammation, headache, and eye-related ailments, and antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and immunomodulatory properties have been reported as their pharmacological effects. [8]

Constituents/Active Components

Employing silica gel column chromatography, Miyazawa and Hisama (2003) isolated suppressive compounds in the ethyl acetate fraction of Chrysanthemum morifolium and further identified flavonoids such as acacetin, apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin through electron ionization mass spectrometry, IR, and (1)H, and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. [6] Wang et al. (2010) on the other hand isolated twelve compounds from the flowers of Chrysanthemum indicum through a variety of column chromatographic methods; these included acacetin, tricin, 2',4'-dihydroxychalcone, 5-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxyflavon, 7hydroxyflavonone, isorhamnetin, 5,6,7-trihydroxy-3',4', 5'-trimethoxyflanon, quercetin, (3 beta, 5 alpha, 6 beta, 7 beta, 14 beta)-eudesmen-3,5,6,11-tetrol, syringaresinol, liriodendrin, and genkwanin. [9]

Xie et al. (2009) isolated a new p-hydroxyphenylacetyl flavonoid from the flowers of Chrysanthemum morifolium—diosmetin 7-(6''-O-p-hydroxyphenylacetyl)-O-beta-d-glucopyranoside. Other isolated flavonoids included luteolin, diosmetin, diosmetin 7-O-beta-d-glucopyranoside, diosmin, and scolimoside, as well as caffeoylquinic acid derivatives, such as macranthoin F, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 1,3-dicaffeoyl-epi-quinic acid, and chlorogenic acid. [10]

Medicinal/Scientific Research


Findings from the study of Miyazawa and Hisama (2003) pointed out the inhibitory activity of a methanol extract acquired from the flower heads of Chrysanthemum morifolium, as well as its ethyl acetate fraction, on umu gene expression of the SOS response in Salmonella typhimurium TA1535/pSK1002 against the mutagen 2-(2-furyl)-3-(5-nitro-2-furyl)acrylamide (furylfuramide). At a concentration of 0.70 μmol/mL, acacetin, apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin in Chrysanthemum morifolium ethyl acetate fraction inhibited the SOS response elicited by furylfuramide in the umu test by 60.2, 75.7, 90.0, and 66.6%, respectively. ID50 values of these compounds were 0.62, 0.55, 0.44, and 0.59 μmol/mL, respectively. Furthermore, these compounds also displayed inhibition of SOS-inducing activity against two other mutagens aflatoxin B1 and 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (Trp-P-1), which require liver-metabolizing enzymes, and UV irradiation. [6]

Employing MTT assays, Xie et al. (2009) evaluated the cytotoxicity of flavonoids identified from the flowers of Chrysanthemum morifolium against human colon cancer cells. Significant cytotoxic activity was found for luteolin and diosmetin against the human colon cancer cell line Colon205, with their IC50 values being 96.9 and 82.9 μM, respectively. [10]


Sassi et al. (2008) confirmed the antimicrobial property of four Tunisian Chrysanthemum species whose various parts, including flowers, leaves, stems, and roots, were extracted with solvents of escalating polarity. These Chrysanthemum extracts demonstrated some degree of antimicrobial activity in vitro against tested bacterial strains and yeasts, as determined through agar diffusion and microdilution methods. Minimum inhibitory concentration values ranged from 0.625 to 1.25 mg/mL, and majority of the extracts were well tolerated by Vero cells, with CC50 > 500 μg/mL. A petroleum ether extract derived from the stems and leaves of Chrysanthemum trifurcatum also exhibited protective effect on infected cells, with EC50 of 100 μg/mL. [5] Using disc paper and broth microdilution methods, Shunying et al. (2005) likewise observed antimicrobial activity from the essential oils obtained from air-dried and processed flowers of Chrysanthemum indicum against 15 microorganisms, including three yeasts and seven clinical isolated strains. Such antimicrobial activity differed between essential oils from air-dried and processed Chrysanthemum indicum flowers against various microorganisms because of variation in component percentage, although it seemed that the processed flower essential oil displayed better bacteriostatic activity than its air-dried oil equivalent due to a higher percentage of camphor content. [11]

Hair Growth

Chrysanthemum zawadskii has been validated to help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, most probably due to its flavonoid constituents. Findings from the study of Li et al. (2014) illustrated that aqueous fraction of Chrysanthemum zawadskii topically administered at the backs of C57BL/6 mice for up to 30 days encouraged the production of hair shafts and stimulated the premature entry of telogen hair follicles into the anagen. Initiation time for hair growth considerably decreased after treatment with the aqueous fraction, which also noticeably increased the size and length of hair follicles, as well as the diameter of the matrix region (p = 0.053). Based on results from immunohistochemistry, which was employed in bromodeoxyuridine-labeled skin sections to examine cell development during morphogenesis of hair follicles, the Chrysanthemum aqueous fraction triggered the differentiation and proliferation of pluripotent epidermal matrix cells in the matrix region and epithelial stem cells in the basal layer of the epidermis. [7]

Contraindications, Interactions, And Safety

The oral use of chrysanthemum as a medicinal herb is generally considered safe among nonsensitive populations. In a 2013 safety evaluation study of Chrysanthemum indicum flower oil, an absence of mortality and clinical signs of toxicity was noted in mice at a daily dose of 2,000 mg/kg body weight of Chrysanthemum indicum flower oil, which was orally administered through single gavage. The study concluded that ingestion of Chrysanthemum indicum flower oil results in no acute oral toxicity, bone marrow micronucleus, and bacterial reverse mutation. [8]

However, allergic complaints in high prevalence have been reported among employees of Chrysanthemum greenhouses where around 56.7% of all cases of work-related symptoms have been documented, with rhinitis being the main symptom. In 20.2% of employees, sensitization to Chrysanthemum pollen was detected and was considered a vital risk factor for the occurrence of upper respiratory airway symptoms. Symptoms resulted from an IgE-mediated allergy due to the airborne pollen of chrysanthemum flowers. [12]


[1] P.-L. Liu, Q. Wan, Y.-P. Guo, J. Yang and G.-Y. Rao, "Phylogeny of the genus Chrysanthemum L.: Evidence from single-copy nuclear gene and chloroplast DNA sequences," PLOS ONE, vol. 7, no. 11, p. e48970, 2012.

[2] F. Wang, F.-J. Zhang, F.-D. Chen, W.-M. Fang and N.-J. Teng, "Identification of Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) self-incompatibility," The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2014, p. 9, 2014.

[3] Y.-H. Wu, "Chrysanthemums in full bloom," Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 95–96, 2016.

[4] "History of the Chrysanthemum," US National Chrysanthemum Society, 2015.

[5] A. Sassi, F. Harzallah-Skhiri, N. Bourgougnon and M. Bourgougnon, "Antimicrobial activities of four Tunisian Chrysanthemum species," Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 127, no. 2, p. 183–192, 2008.

[6] M. Miyazawa and M. Hisama, "Antimutagenic activity of flavonoids from Chrysanthemum morifolium," Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 67, no. 10, p. 2091–2099, 2003.

[7] Z. Li, J. Li, L. Gu, et al., "Chrysanthemum zawadskii extract induces hair growth by stimulating the proliferation and differentiation of hair matrix," International Journal of Molecular Medicine, vol. 34, no. 1, p. 130–136, 2014.

[8] E.-S. Hwang and G.-H. Kim, "Safety evaluation of Chrysanthemum indicum L. flower oil by assessing acute oral toxicity, micronucleus abnormalities, and mutagenicity," Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, vol. 18, no. 2, p. 111–116, 2013.

[9] J. Wang, D. Chen, L. Liang, P. Xue and P. Tu, "Chemical constituents from flowers of Chrysanthemum indicum," China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica, vol. 35, no. 6, p. 718–721, 2010.

[10] Y. Xie, D. Yuan, J. Yang, L. Wang and C. Wu, "Cytotoxic activity of flavonoids from the flowers of Chrysanthemum morifolium on human colon cancer Colon205 cells," Journal of Asian Natural Products Research, vol. 11, no. 9, p. 771–778, 2009.

[11] Z. Shunying, Y. Yang, Y. Huaidong, Y. Yue and Z. Guolin, "Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oils of Chrysanthemum indicum," Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 96, no. 1–2, p. 151–158, 2005.

[12] G. Groenewoud, N. de Jong, A. Burdorf, H. de Groot and R. van Wÿk, "Prevalence of occupational allergy to Chrysanthemum pollen in greenhouses in the Netherlands," Allergy, vol. 57, no. 9, p. 835–840, 2002.

Article researched and created by Dan Albir for © 2018

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