Presented by the Smith College Botanic Garden
The garden or florists' chrysanthemum, Dendranthema × grandiflora, formerly classified as Chrysanthemum × morifolium, is a member of the Asteraceae, or aster family (also known as the 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.

Smith Chrysanthemums: Hybrid Alums is a photographic exhibition of Smith alumnae and their hybrid chrysanthemums. The botanic history of the chrysanthemum, techniques for hybridization, and information about flower forms are included, as well as archival photos of past chrysanthemum shows at Smith. As the Mum Show brightens dull November days, this exhibit sheds light on one of Smith's most beloved traditions.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, November 7, 1966
Courtesy of the Smith College Archives
Daily Hampshire Gazette, November 5, 1977
Courtesy of Smith College Archives
Daily Hampshire Gazette, November 6, 1964
Courtesy of Smith College Archives

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