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Most people will recognise the word “Edelweiss” from the famous 1965 musical romance, Sound of Music. However, this non-toxic, noble plant, with its snow-white leaves and star-shaped inflorescence, is often associated with certain myths related to proving one’s worth and discovering true love.
One fable tells the tragedy of a hauntingly beautiful queen with a heart of pure ice. Stories of her beauty reached many doomed suitors, who dared to proclaim love for the queen. Since her frozen heart was unable to love, she soon tired of them and ordered her loyal goblins to throw the hapless men to their deaths. One day, an ordinary shepherd found his way to her cave and the queen fell in love with him. The jealous goblins, fearing their mistress would marry this mortal and abandon them, threw him into the abyss. When she learned of the tragedy, her heart melted enough for her to shed a solitary tear. That tear became the first Edelweiss.
Although this tragic tale earned Edelweiss its popular name “The Tear of the Snow Queen”, another legend, told by Berthold Auerbach in 1861 in his book, Edelweiss, made the flower a true symbol of eternal love. The tale tells the story of a young man who risks his life to collect rare Edelweiss flowers for his lover as proof of his daring and brave nature.
With all the mystique surrounding the Edelweiss flower, these tales and fables might not be easy to chew. Accurate or not, this small, potent plant continues to be used in medicine as a remedy against many diseases. Its origins, however, are up to you to decide…