Eternal Flower Edelweiss: Will We Let It Extinct?

Anaphalis javanica or usually known as Javanese Edelweiss is a kind of flower that is familiar for the mountaineers. Londo (2012) said that Edelweiss is derived from the German words “edel” that means “holy, noble’, and “weiss” that means ‘white’.Furthermore, Junghuhn said that this sweet flower can easily be seen in Alpine Zone/Montana. Montana is a wet tropical forest formation located in the mountain. If we visit Europe, we will find different kinds of edelweiss from the one that we often see in some mountains in Java, Sumatra, and Lombok. European Edelweiss is called Leontopodiumflower. In West Java, there are some favorite spots for the mountaineers to enjoy the beauty of this flower, such as the ones in Surya Kencana in Gede Mountain, Mandalawangi in Parangrango Mountain, and TegalAlun in Papandayan Mountain.

When the edelweis flower bloom. Photo by Nurina K Atmono

Do you know which part of this beautiful flower that is considered flower? If your answer is the white part, well, unfortunately, it is not the correct one. The part called flower is the yellow one, while the white is the flower petals. The yellow part will fall out in 1–3 days. This flower belongs to the genus Chrysanthemumin Asteraceae family and it has a generative reproduction. Its generative flower pollens have light mass so it is easy to spread through the wind. When the pollens find the perfect place to grow, edelweiss will grow well. Edelweiss is a dicotyledonous plant; therefore, it is potential to propagate through artificial vegetative reproduction, one of them is by stem cuttings. However, this still needs further research.

Edelweiss is one of the pioneer plants species. It is able to survive and grow in a critical area with low nutrient. To fulfill its need of nutrient, this plant will cooperate with fungus. This kind of cooperation is called mycorrhiza. The fungus lives on the roots of edelweiss to gain oxygen and living place, while edelweiss gets the nutrient from fungus. Edelweiss can grow up to eight meters, if it is not disrupted by human. For the mountainous area in which plants are difficult to grow, Edelweiss is a superhero for other organisms.

As a pioneer plant species, edelweiss is the one that firstly grow to help other plants live and provide nutrient for them. Edelweiss can also decrease land erosion since it acts as land protector from rains or other water stream. Besides, edelweiss is one of the most important plants for some insects.

Currently, this plant belongs to the category of critically endangered flower based on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This flower, which is still related to sunflower, possesses another unique characteristic that is never withers. That is why this flower is known as eternal flower. This unique characteristic owned by Edelweiss makes it become the mostly picked flower by the climbers. There is a belief among climbers that if a climber pick edelweiss and gives it to his lover, their love will become eternal, like this flower. Well, they may have a long everlasting love; however, this action will of course threaten our mother earth’s harmony.  Some researchers also found out that this ‘holy’ flower can also be used as medicine.

Edelweiss’ extract is believed to have high anti-oxidants content. It is one of the reasons that make edelweiss become less and less found in its natural habitat. Another factor that influences the lower population of Edelweiss is forest fires and the trading activities of Edelweiss done by the local people. Considering the important role of this flower, it is so unfortunate if its population keeps decreasing. So, do you still want to pick this flower just for your own sake? Isn’t it more special to enjoy its beauty directly in the mountain and combined with other natural beauty, instead of taking it back to our home? I’m pretty sure if you are a true traveler, you won’t do such possessive action towards Edelweiss because you understand completely that it is our job to guard and protect the preservation of this flower’s beauty in its natural habitat. [End]

Written by Nurina K Atmono
Translated and edited by Noviastuti Putri Indrasari

This article has been published before in Travelnatic Magazine Volume 4–November 2014

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