The peony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.
The peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.
There are three types of Peonies:
- herbaceous: During summer, renewal buds develop on the underground stem (the "crown"), particularly at the foot of the current season's annual shoots. These renewal buds come in various sizes. While large buds will grow into stems the following growing season, smaller buds remain dormant. The primordia for the leaves can already be found in June, but the flower only starts differentiating in October, as the annual shoots die-down, to be completed in December, when sepals, petals, stamens and pistils are all recognisable.
- tree: During the summer large buds develop at the tip of the annual growth and near its foot. In the autumn, the leaves are shed, but the stems become woody and are perennial.
- Itoh (or "Intersectional"): In 1948 horticulturist Toichi Itoh from Tokyo used pollen from the yellow tree peony "Alice Harding" to fertilize the herbaceous P. lactiflora "Katoden", which resulted in a new category of peonies, the Itoh or intersectional cultivars. These are herbaceous, have leaves like tree peonies, with many large flowers from late spring to early autumn, and good peony wilt resistance. Some of the early Itoh cultivars are "Yellow Crown", "Yellow Dream", "Yellow Emperor" and "Yellow Heaven".
Flower typesSix types of flower are generally distinguished between in herbaceous peonies.
- single: a single or double row broad petals encircle fertile stamens, carpels visible.
- Japanese: a single or double row broad petals encircle somewhat broadened staminodes, may carry pollen along the edges, carpels visible.
- anemone: a single or double row broad petals encircle narrow incurved petal-like staminodes, while fertile stamens are absent, carpels visible.
- semi-double: a single or double row of broad petals encircle further broad petals intermingled with stamens.
- bomb: a single row of broad petals encircles a shorter dense pompon of narrower petals.
- double: the flower consists of many broad petals only including those that must be altered stamens and carpels.
My favorite are the pink ones. I remember that my sister had armloads of them for her wedding in 1958!
They were the old fashioned kind that everyone had in their gardens.
I am especially fond of the pale pink ones.
I also love the ones that shade into white. Even the buds make lovely arrangements!
And who doesn't love the white ones!
I love this bridal bouquet made with white peony buds!
The peony is among the longest-used flowers in Eastern culture and is one of the smallest living creature national emblems in China. Along with the plum blossom, it is a traditional floral symbol of China, where the Paeonia suffruticosa is called 牡丹 (mǔdān). It is also known as 富貴花 (fùguìhuā) "flower of riches and honour" or 花王 (huawang) "king of the flowers", and is used symbolically in Chinese art. In 1903, the Qing dynasty declared the peony as the national flower.
The ancient Chinese city Luoyang has a reputation as a cultivation centre for the peonies. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang have been said to be the finest in the country.
In Japan, Paeonia lactiflora used to be called ebisugusuri ("foreign medicine"). Pronunciation of 牡丹 (peony) in Japan is "botan." In kampo (the Japanese adaptation of Chinese medicine), its root was used as a treatment for convulsions. It is also cultivated as a garden plant. In Japan Paeonia suffruticosa is called the "King of Flowers" and Paeonia lactiflora is called the "Prime Minister of Flowers."
In the Middle Ages, peonies were often painted with their ripe seed-capsules, since it was the seeds, not the flowers, which were medically significant. Ancient superstition dictated that great care be taken not to be seen by a woodpecker while picking the plant's fruit, or the bird might peck out one's eyes.
In 1957, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law to make the peony the state flower of Indiana, a title which it holds to this day. It replaced the zinnia, which had been the state flower since 1931.
Mischievous nymphs were said to hide in the petals of the Peony, giving it the meaning of Shame or Bashfulness in the Language of Flowers. While the peony takes several years to re-establish itself when moved, it blooms annually for decades once it has done so.
Peonies are also extensively grown as ornamental plants for their very large, often scented flowers.
Peonies tend to attract ants to the flower buds. This is due to the nectar that forms on the outside of the flower buds, and is not required for the plants' own pollination or other growth.
Peonies are a common subject in tattoos, often used along with koi-fish. The popular use of peonies in Japanese tattoo was inspired by the ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi's illustrations of Suikoden, a classical Chinese novel. His paintings of warrior-heroes covered in pictorial tattoos included lions, tigers, dragons, koi fish, and peonies, among other symbols. The peony became a masculine motif, associated with a devil-may-care attitude and disregard for consequence.
In China, the fallen petal of Paeonia lactiflora are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy. Peony water[clarification needed] was used for drinking in the Middle Ages. The petals may be added to salads or to punches and lemonades.
Famous painters of peonies have included Conrad Gessner (ca. 1550) and Auguste Renoir in 1879. Paeonia officinalis can be found in the altar picture of Maria im Rosenhag by Schongauer in the former Dominican Church in Colmar. The Italian Jesuit, painter and architect Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), who worked at the court of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing dynasty, painted peonies.
The herb known as Paeonia, in particular the root of P. lactiflora (Bai Shao, Radix Paeoniae Lactiflorae), has been used frequently in traditional medicines of Korea, China and Japan.
All the photos were from Pinterest. The informaion from Wikipedia.