Nature

Botanical Profile: Edelweiss

This white, woolly-haired blossom, which is regarded as a landmark of the Swiss Alps, is, however, only a feigned blossom. The subalpine to alpine plant grows in rock and scree, as well as on calcareous, stony soils at altitudes of 1,500 to over 3,000 metres above sea level. It prefers southern exposure

Growth Habit

The leaves of the edelweiss plant (Leontopodium alpinum) form a basal rosette on rocky soil. One or more unbranched, flower-bearing shoots grow out of the rosette, growing 10 to 20 cm high. These stems, each of which ends in a blossom, are covered in fuzzy white hairs, just like all of the other above-ground parts of the plant.

Leaves

In addition to the basal rosette, the plant has narrow, lanceolate leaves that are evenly arranged along the hairy stems. The leaves can grow up to 5 cm long and 8 mm wide.

Blossoms

Edelweiss belongs to the compositae family of flowering plants. Its inflorescence is surrounded by five to fifteen star-shaped bracts. This white, woolly-haired blossom, which is regarded as a landmark of the Swiss Alps, is, however, only a feigned blossom. The actual flowers are clustered together at the centre of the star. Here, two to twelve cup-shaped flower heads contain tiny yellowish-white tubular florets.

Habitat

The subalpine to alpine plant grows in rock and scree, as well as on calcareous, stony soils at altitudes of 1,500 to over 3,000 metres above sea level. It prefers southern exposure. Edelweiss is under strict nature protection and may not be picked as a wild plant. For the production of the edelweiss extract used by Weleda, the plants are cultivated in Switzerland at an altitude of over 1,500 metres. The edelweiss plantations are planted from seedlings.

Characteristics

The above-ground flowering parts of the plant are used to produce the extract. The clear, amber to brown extract contains edelweiss acid and other phenolic acids, as well as flavonoids. Thanks to its antioxidant and skin-caring properties, edelweiss extract is well-suited for sun protection products.