Hybrid Alums Introduction

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 Hybrid Alums
The garden or florists' chrysanthemum, Dendranthema × grandiflora, formerly classified as Chrysanthemum × morifolium, is a member of the Asteraceae, or aster family (also known as Compositae). First cultivated in China, chrysanthemums were described by Confucius as early as 500 B.C. They reached Japan in the third century A.D., where horticulturists began selective breeding that continues to this day.

The first chrysanthemums arrived in Europe in 1789, when three Chinese cultivars were successfully imported into France. Since then, hybridizers around the world have developed thousands of new cultivars. Because of this intense hybridization, it is difficult to trace the botanic history of the chrysanthemum, whose common name comes from the Greek chrysos meaning gold and anthemom meaning flower. Botanists now generally believe that the ancestor of today's perennial chrysanthemum is Dendranthema indica.

Smith College has been celebrating chrysanthemums for nearly a century at the annual Fall Chrysanthemum Show. The Smith Mum Show is unique in its rich history and traditions. Cascade chrysanthemums line the walls of the Conservatory, forming hanging "waterfalls" of brilliantly colored blossoms. Since the early 1900s the show has also featured hybrids resulting from crosses made by Smith students studying horticulture.

 William I.P. Campbell and members of his horticulture class visiting the Chrysanthemum Show

Courtesy of Smith College Archives

Hybrid chrysanthemum created by Beverly Therrien Partridge, 1982

Daily Hampshire Gazette Mum Show article, 11-6-1964. Pictured left is student Karen Nelson, right is Lucile Pingree, hybridizing mums in William Campbell's Botany class.

 horticulture student, Sally Haskell admiring the Chrysanthemum Show

Images courtesy of Smith College Archives