Botanist's Glossary

Peony - Paeonia lactiflora

  • Description
    • This, the common garden peony, is a herbaceous perennial with fleshy roots. It produces a clump of stems every year and large, fragrant, more or less "double" flowers in shades from white to crimson. Peonies were introduced into France in the 16th century and are native to northern China, eastern Siberia, Japan and Korea. Similar in appearance, the European peony, paeonia officinalis, grows in southern and south-east Europe.
  • Traditions
    • Peonies have been cultivated in China for 2,000 years for both ornamental purposes (at least 1,000 varieties) and medicinal applications, with peony root used to treat digestive complaints, inflammatory conditions and hemorrhages. The European peony was used for similar medicinal purposes in ancient times and the Middle Ages. It was also considered a magical herb and specific precautions had to be taken when picking it. Dry peony root was believed to be a lucky charm, and worn as a protective talisman.
  • Properties
    • Peony has softening and moisturizing properties.