Herbs & Plants

Paeonia ostii

Botanical Name: Paeonia ostii
Family: Paeoniaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales
Genus: Paeonia
Species: P. ostii

Synonyms: Paeonia yinpingmudan (D.Y.Hong, K.Y.Pan & Zhang W.Xie) B.A.Shen

Common Name: Tree Peony

Habitat: Paeonia ostii is native to E. Asia – China in Shaanxi and Heenan. It grows in deciduous broad-leaved forests, thickets on slopes at elevations of 800 – 1600 metres


Paeonia ostii is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 3 m (9ft) with grey-brown bark and lance shaped leaflets. Flowers are produced in mid-spring, up to 15 cm across, and pure white without basal blotches. The flowers can sometimes be faintly tinged with pink. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

Stems brown-grey. Lower leaves ternate-pinnate, with 11—15 leaflets; leaflets lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, mostly entire, terminal leaflets often 2-3-lobed, very occasionally 1-2 lateral leaflets also 2—lobed, rounded at the base, acute to acuminate at the apex, 5—13 cm long, 2.5—6 cm wide, glabrous on both surfaces but sometimes pubescent at the base or the lower part of major veins above. Flowers solitary, terminal, single; involucrate bracts 3—6 in number, green, leaf-like; sepals 4—6 in number, green-yellow, broad-elliptic or ovate-orbicular, 1.5-3.1 cm long, 1.5—2.5 cm wide, shortly caudate or acute at the apex; petals usually 11-14 in number, white, rarely pinkish, obovate, 5.5-8 cm long, 4-6 cm wide, entire or incised at the apex; filaments purple-red; anthers yellow; disk entirely enveloping carpels at anthesis, purple—red, leathery, dentate or lobed at the apex; carpels 5, densely tomentose; stigmas sessile, red. Follicles oblong, densely brown-yellow tomentose. Seeds brown—black, oblong—spherical or spherical, 8—9 mm long, 7-8 mm in diameter.


Requires a deep rich soil, preferably neutral or slightly alkaline, doing quite well in sun or light shade. Prefers a limy soil and a sheltered position. Plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but will not survive if the soil becomes waterlogged or is too dry. This species is lime tolerant. Plants grown on sandy soils tend to produce more leaves and less flowers, whilst those growing on clay take longer to become established but produce better blooms. Hardy to about -20°c, plants do better in the north of Britain than they do in the south and are generally best if given an open northerly aspect. A very ornamental plant. It grows best in areas with long hot summers and requires an airy position because it is very subject to fungal attack. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Plants come into growth early in the year and are then subject to damage by late frosts, so are best sited in a position that is shaded from the early morning sun. The branches are brittle and very subject to wind damage, especially when young. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. A very greedy plant inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. The plant does not really need much pruning apart from removing dead or diseased stems. It is, however, very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back to ground level if it requires rejuvenation. Strongly resents root disturbance, taking some time to recover after being divided. Peony species are usually self-fertile, though they will also hybridise with other species if these flower nearby at the same time. Plants take 4 – 5 years to flower from seed. They generally breed true from seed. Commonly cultivated in China as a medicinal plant, the cultivar ‘Phoenix White’ has especially vigorous roots and so is the favoured form for medicinal use.

Edible Uses: Flowers – cooked. The fallen flower petals are parboiled and sweetened for a teatime delicacy, or cooked in various dishes.

Medicinal Uses:
A tea made from the dried crushed petals of various peony species has been used as a cough remedy, and as a treatment for haemorrhoids and varicose veins. The following uses are for P. suffruticosa. They quite probably also apply to this closely related species. The root and root bark is analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, sedative, styptic and tonic. An extract of the plant has antibacterial activity. The plant is used internally in the treatment of fevers, boils, menstrual disorders, nosebleeds, ulcers, irritability and gastro-intestinal infections. This remedy should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The herb acts as a synergist when used with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp). A tea made from the dried crushed petals of various peony species has been used as a cough remedy, and as a treatment for haemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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