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edelweiss (āˈdəlvĪs) [key], perennial aster plant (genus Leontopodium ) found at high altitudes in the mountains of Europe, Asia, and South America. It is about 6 in. (15.2 cm) tall with woolly-white floral leaves and small heads of yellow disk flowers surrounded by silvery bracts. Despite its inconspicuous appearance it is esteemed (chiefly by the Swiss) as a symbol of purity and inaccessibility. In Switzerland it is protected by law. Probably because of its associations it has some popularity as a rock garden and pot plant. Edelweiss is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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