Peony

Peony

Paeonia lactiflora

Today, herbalists add peonies to preparations for creating a sound treatment for gout, cough, respiratory tract infections, osteoarthritis, fever, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, and inducing abortion.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Chinese peony, Common garden peony, Chinese herbaceous peony
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Flowers
  • Side Effects: None
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About Peony

Peony is a flamboyant bloom that imparts scenic beauty and exotic fragrance to the garden. It can grow up to a height of 30 inches with long lobed leaves. This herbaceous flowering perennial plant produces large fragrant blooms that depict the idea of a cup or bowl, possessing white, pink, or crimson petals. 

Historically, the Greeks used peonies to induce menstruation and cure epilepsy. In the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicinal) system, peonies are documented as an excellent aid for hypertension, muscular cramps and spasms, fever, and chest pain. Today, herbalists add peonies to preparations for creating a sound treatment for gout, cough, respiratory tract infections, osteoarthritis, fever, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, and inducing abortion.

The knee-high stems and dense green foliage with lavish blooms make peonies a perfect ingredient for bordering the garden. Its key active ingredient is paeoniflorin that is majorly held responsible for all the amazing pharmacologic effects of peony. Its root extract is fervently used to ameliorate hyperpigmentation by reducing the over-production of melanin.

 

Growing

Peonies are low maintenance, virtually pest-free, and a very adaptable plant. They should be started in the early fall so that they can establish properly in the soil until the arrival of winters. 

Peonies can flourish both indoors and outdoors, provided they receive a good amount of sunlight and a regular water supply. They can tolerate any type of moist but well-drained soil, including chalk, loam, sand, and clay. Avoid planting in waterlogged conditions. Its bare root tubers are usually used to start the process of the plantation but seeds can also be used.

Peony root takes around 4 to 12 weeks to show visible growth. After an uninterrupted growth of a year or two, the plant finally becomes capable of producing flowers. 

These peony blossoms appear in late spring to early summer, inviting different pollinating insects to the garden, especially wasps and butterflies. After pollination, these flowers transform into clusters of grayish-brown seed pods that ripen and crack open to produce shiny purplish-black seeds.

 

Harvesting

Peony blossoms are harvested by the mid of May till the end of June. 

Use a pair of sharp shears or scissors to cut the stems bearing peony flowers. It is recommended to strip off the leaves to avoid water loss. As for the roots, loosen the soil around the plant without damaging the root using a sharp spade and dig up the plant. Wash the exposed root with plenty of water and save it for later use.

Peonies are refrigerated by wrapping the entire stem with paper towels. To enjoy the perks of peony blossoms year-round, they are tied with a string by the stem and hung upside down to get dried in a cool dark place with no humidity and direct sunlight. Dry the roots with a paper towel and insulate them with packing peanut in an unheated protective spot (such as garage or basement).

Usage

Peonies are commercially used to celebrate honor, love, romance, and happiness. Their extracts are added to the medicinal preparations to address a good load of ailments.

  • Tincture - Peony roots are chopped and macerated in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks to form a peony tincture.
  • Tea - 1 teaspoon of peony leaves powder is stirred in a cup of hot boiling water to make peony tea.
  • Decoction - Peony root is decocted with water for a given period of time (as provided in the monograph) to form a peony decoction.
  • Syrup - Fresh peony flowers are simmered in sugar solution for a few minutes to form peony syrup.
  • Salve - Peony flowers infused oil is thickened with melted beeswax to formulate a peony salve.
  • Infused oil - Dried peony petals are infused in olive oil for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny windowsill to form an infused oil.