Paeonia, commonly known as Peony, is a genus of about 30 species of perennials and deciduous shrubs or subshrubs in the family Paeoniaceae, native to Asia, Southern Europe and North America.
Peonies produce large, showy flowers in a variety of colors. They are famous for they exquisite and often fragrant flowers, which bloom in late spring and early summer. If cared for properly, Peonies can bloom for over 100 years!
The genus was named after Paeon, a physician who studied under Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.
According to legend, Pluto, god of the underworld in Greek mythology, had complained of Asclepius diminishing the number of the dead too much. Asclepius was angry because of that. He was even more furious when he found out that Paeon extracted a milky liquid from the root of the plant to cure Pluto. Asclepius got so jealous that he ordered to kill Paeon, but Zeus saved him by turning Paeon into a beautiful flower – Peony.
Peony symbolizes prosperity, wealth and good fortune.
It can also mean dignity, honor and compassion.
Interesting facts about Paeonia
Peony in China
Peony is the traditional flower of China and it plays a big role in many holidays and religious traditions there, often referred to as the “King of flowers”.
They have been popular since the Sui dynasty (581-618), when they were planted in droves at the Imperial Palace. It was the national flower in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), but also during the Ming era (1368-1644) and Qing era (1644-1912). However, prior to 2019., China was among the few countries without an official national flower. Finally, China adopted Peony as the national flower, after the national poll in 2019.
Peonies are widely seen around the country. They are in full bloom each year from mid-April to mid-May, showing their stunning colors.
Luoyang National Peony Garden is one of the oldest gardens to grow Peonies in China and one of the main venues for Luoyang Peony Festival, which is held from early April to early May.
Popularity of Peony in Indiana, USA
In 1957, Peony became the state flower of Indiana.
It’s worth to mention that Indiana has had four official state flowers including the Carnation, Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Zinnia and Peony.
Peony Benefits and Uses
Various parts of the plant have been used for a wide range of medicinal purposes for over 2000 years.
The plant has been used to treat bleeding wounds, menstrual cramps, asthma, gout, osteoarthritis, spasms, headache, fever and cough.
Peony is often used as a wedding flower and is frequently given on wedding anniversaries.