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GEneral info

In this section general information on peonies.

A little piece on historie and fun facts, on taxonomy and natural distribution area, on morphology and on use of peonies in the landscape.

HISTORY

The genus Paeonia knows a very rich and long history. Peony were already much respected in ancient times; The Greeks named them 'Queen of Herbs' and in the earliest Chinese Dynasties peonies were referred to as the 'King of Flowers'.

The real 'Peony Rush' started late in the 19th century. Mainly England and France were pioneers in this area, closely followed by the USA.

MYTHOLOGY
The botanical name of peonies, Paeonia, is named after Paeon, a pupil of Asclepius (The Greek God of Medicin). Asclepius was the son of Apollo (The Greek God of Healing), and grandchild of Zeus and Leto. Paeon discoverd peony plants on the slopes of Mount Olympus, on directions of Leto. Pluto had been hurt in the Battle of Troy in a fight with Hercules, and Paeon used the plants to heal the wounds of Pluto. Asclepius got so jealous of Paeon's success that he ordered to have him killed. Pluto on the other hand was so grateful to Paeon that he had him changed into the beautiful flowers that had healed his wounds - Paeonia was born!

 

MEDICINAL USE
Peonies have been considered to have strong healing powers for ages. For over 2000 years peony roots have been used for medicinal purposes. The roots and seeds were used by all kinds of physicians for the treatment of a wide range of ailments, like reducing swellings, releaving pain, preventing epyleptic seasures and regulate menstrual bleeding. Brews of peony roots were also used as sedative, pain killer and to control transpiration. Upto today peonies are still being used in the healing world, but mainly in the traditional Chinese medicin. It is very likely that Western Medicinal Science has alwaysunderestimated the healing potential of peonies, and still does.

OTHER USE
In Medieval England herbs were very expensive, and the seeds of peonies were used to flavour the daily meal. Peony roots were even boiled and eaten as a vegetable with the meal. Upto the 19th century people on the Brittish Isles used peony seeds to create necklaces. Also it was common practice of people then to plant peony seeds against their homes to keep away bad spirits. In Russia the bright red colour of Paeonia caucasica was used to dye woll, paper, silk and linnen. The lovely fragrance of many peony varieties is upto today still being used to make the most exclusive of perfumes.