I have an ever increasing love for these flowers. When I was a child my grandmother grew deep-red peonies that used to bloom around midsummer. They were always used to crown the midsummer-pole – The Queen of Midsummer.
There exists about 25-40 varieties. They are heavenly scented with huge flowers ranging from white and yellow over many pink hues to deep red. The leaves are dark green, pointed with clear tracings of nerves. There exists about 25-40 varieties and they are native to Asia, Europe and north America. They are perennial and reach a height of about 1m, but there are some that become small trees, reaching a height of about 3 m.
Peony is named for the mythical Greek figure Paeon, who was said to be a student of Aesculapius, the great physician. Paeon used the peony plant to heal a wound for the god Pluto. This earned Aesculapius’s jealous wrath, but Pluto saved Paeon from death by turning him into a peony plant.
In China the roots (and sometimes bark of the peony tree) of peonies have a long history of medicinal use, often in combination with licorice root, for cramps, spasms, fever. In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) peonies have often been used for women’s health problems. For more in-depth information on peonie’s use in alternative medicine look here.
- The Chinese name for the peony is sho yu. This means “most beautiful.”
- The peony is the traditional flower symbol of China.
- In Europe the peony has been called “The rose without thorns”.
- The history of the peony in China and Japan spans more than 4 000 years.
- In Asia the peony is a symbol of wealth, good fortune and prosperity.
- The peony is an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage.
- The peony is the state flower of Indiana USA since 1957.
- Mischievous nymphs were said to hide in the petals of the Peony thus causing this magnificent flower to be given the meaning of Shame or Bashfulness in the Language of Flowers. (So if you find me hiding in the petals of a Peony, just pretend you didn’t notice)