The Secret of #13 for November’s Flower: Chrysanthemum

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Longwood Gardens is one of the treasures to those living in Pennsylvania. Each year they have a Chrysanthemum Festival that is jaw-droppingly amazing. 

In fact, the staff of this very special place spent 2000 hours over 17 months to grow one of its giant single chrysanthemum plants as part of their Thousand Bloom exhibit.  Like people, there are so many different and distinct varieties of this flower.

In the language of flowers, the chrysanthemum represents loyalty and devoted love. As well as joy. And indeed this exhibit and the photos not only give joy but wisdom. 

Here is writer Katie Mobley’s explanation of the 13 different classifications of chrysanthemums. Learning about them makes going to these exhibits like a treasure hunt. 

Also, we wanted to share some information on the chrysanthemum since it is the November flower. 

by Katie Mobley

Cherished for their exquisite beauty, rich hues, and delightfully distinct variations, chrysanthemums are in a class—or rather 13 classes—all their own. Complex by nature, chrysanthemums are divided into 13 classifications, each representing a distinct flower form. Even a chrysanthemum flower itself is intricate and multifaceted, as each is composed of hundreds of florets or small flowers. All complexities aside, the simple truth is this: as part of Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry, gorgeous representations of each of the 13 chrysanthemum classifications are on display now in our Conservatory … and here’s where you can find them.

Class 1: Irregular Incurve

Representing the largest blooms within the chrysanthemum genus, irregular incurve classification applies to those with florets or petals that loosely incurve and close the center. Lower florets present an irregular, or informal, appearance and may give the chrysanthemum a skirted effect.

Class 2: Reflex

Shaped like a flattened globe, chrysanthemums with the reflex classification have florets or petals that curve downward and overlap, similar to bird plumage. The exceptionally vibrant Chrysanthemum × morifolium ‘Domingo’ is a beautiful representation of the reflex classification.

Class 3: Regular Incurve

Regular incurve chrysanthemums feature a true spherical bloom equal in breadth and depth. These well-balanced beauties have petals that smoothly incurve and form a ball shape, curving tightly up.

Class 4: Decorative

Chrysanthemum × morifolium ‘Indian Summer’ is not only a bronze showstopper along the southeastern walkway in our Main Conservatory but also an example of decorative chrysanthemum classification, thanks to its flattened bloom with short florets or petals. The upper florets incurve, while the lower petals curve outwardly, though not as much so as those within the reflex classification. 

Class 5: Intermediate Incurve

Similar to the irregular incurve, the intermediate incurve classification is smaller than its counterpart, with shorter florets that only partially incurve with full centers. It also features an open appearance, as its petals are arranged more loosely. One such chrysanthemum is Chrysanthemum × morifolium ‘Le Mans’, a stunning pink flower.

Class 6: Pompon

Pompon is a particularly fun classification, characterized by small, spherical blooms that are somewhat flat when young but fully round when mature. As the name suggests, petals curve either upwards or downwards in a round, globular shape. These whimsical blooms are popular in cut-flower displays, and size ranges from small button types to large disbudded blooms measuring almost four inches in diameter. 

Class 7: Single & Semi-Double

You may be fooled by single & semi-double chrysanthemums; this classification produces blooms reminiscent of a daisy, with petals extending outward around a circular center.

Class 8: Anemone

If you’d like to see a variety of anemone chrysanthemums, then you’re in luck. These chrysanthemums are showcased in the form of columns, baskets, spirals, and ball standards, in hues of red, yellow, bronze, and pink. Anemone chrysanthemums also have a daisy-like appearance, but with a large center disk that can range from flat to hemispherical.

Class 9: Spoon

This aptly-named classification features spoon-like petals that face upwards, radiating out from a round center disk. Interesting and playful, these flowers are extremely textural thanks to their many rows of petals.

Class 10: Quill

Chrysanthemums with the quill classification lack an open center, but make up for it in their straight, tubular florets or petals that push out from the center of the flower. The tips of the “quills” can be closed and pointed to open and flat. Chrysanthemum × morifolium ‘Seaton’s Ashleigh’ features breathtaking purple quills.

Class 11: Spider

Chrysanthemums of the spider classification lend multi-faceted visual interest, thanks to their long tubular ray florets that may coil or hook at the ends. The petals can be thin or thick in width.

Class 12: Brush or Thistle

Chrysanthemums classified as brush or thistle can resemble an artist’s paintbrush, or feature fine, twisted tubular florets that appear flattened. Petals stick either up or out.

Class 13: Unclassified or Exotic

Blooms in the unclassified or exotic category may exhibit characteristics of more than one bloom class or are considered distinctive and unique, and therefore do not fall into any other category.


Photo Credits: Classifications: 1, 6, 7, 8, 10. Cathy Matos, 2, 11 Amy Simon Berg, 3, 5, 9, 12, 13 Zach Longacre, 4 Candice Ward