Chrysanthemums are the oldest cultivated flower for aesthetic purposes that were grown in China and Japan, and they developed many, many varieties prior to the arrival of explorers from the West. They were imbued with divine symbolism, and sacred to the Royal family of Japan. Chrysanthemums can be divided into two principal groups, insofar as the cut flower trade is concerned. There are the spray chrysanthemums, with many branching laterals, and which are allowed to develop with a minimum of manipulation, and usually termed “Poms” in the USA.
The second category are the “Disbudded” chrysanthemums, which are manicured during the growing period to remove any lateral shoots, resulting in one large flower per stem. These are usually called “ ‘Mums”, and include China or Football Mums, Cremons, Fujis, and Spider Mums.
China mums have either “incurved” petals, fully double with the petals opening from the calyx upwards; or fully double, tightly packed reflexed petals opening from the crown downwards. Prior to WW11, copious amounts of China Mums or “Football” mums were shipped by the train from Michigan greenhouses to southern states for Homecoming, and football games in general. Used principally in corsages and for making cheer “pom poms”, Mums were a staple of the fall months.