Herbs & Plants

Chinese Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

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Botanical Name :Paeonia lactiflora/Paeonia albiflora
Family: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Order: Saxifragales
Species: P. lactiflora
Syn. : P. lactiflora, P. officinalis
Common Names : White Peony , Bai Shao Yao, Peony root, and Chinese Peony

Habitat : Native to central and eastern Asia from eastern Tibet across northern China to E. Siberia to Mongolia. .Dry open stony slopes, riverbanks and sparse woodland edges. Woods and grasslands at elevations of 400 – 2300 metres in China

Chinese Peony or common garden peony is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant.  It is about 60-100 cm tall with large compound leaves 20-40 cm long. The flower buds are large and round, opening into large flowers 8-16 cm diameter, with 5-10 white, pink, or crimson petals and yellow stamens.

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It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires dry or moist soil.

Chinese Peony is widely grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, with several hundred selected cultivars; many of the cultivars have double flowers, with the stamens modified into additional petals. It was first introduced to England in the mid 1700s, and is the species that has produced most common garden peonies today. It was known as P. albiflora for many years, and as the white peony when first introduced into Europe. There are many colors now available, from pure milk white, to pink, rose, and near red—along with single to full double forms. They are prolific bloomers, and have become the main source of peonies for the cut flower business.

In China, it is less highly valued as an ornamental plant than the cultivars of tree peony Paeonia rockii (tree peony, known as ziban m? d?n in Chinese) and its hybrid Paeonia x suffruticosa, or m? d?n.

Cultivation :
An easily grown and undemanding plant[250], it does best in a deep rich soil, preferably neutral or slightly alkaline, doing quite well in sun or light shade. Plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but will not survive if the soil becomes waterlogged or is too dry[250]. 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. Prefers a rich heavy soil that is well-drained but remains moist in the summer. The species is hardy to about -25°c, but there are many named varieties some of which are hardy to about -50°. Cultivated as a medicinal plant in China. A very ornamental and long-lived plant, surviving in gardens for 50 years or more. Many hundreds of named varieties have been developed for their ornamental value. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. Strongly resents root disturbance, taking some time to recover if it is transplanted. Plants should be planted with their crowns no more than 3cm below soil level. If planted deeper they do not flower so well. 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.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. When sown fresh, the seed produces a root about 6 weeks after sowing with shoots formed in the spring. Stored seed is much slower, it should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame but may take 18 months or more to germinate. The roots are very sensitive to disturbance, so many growers allow the seedlings to remain in their pots for 2 growing seasons before potting them up. This allows a better root system to develop that is more resilient to disturbance. If following this practice, make sure you sow the seed thinly, and give regular liquid feeds in the growing season to ensure the plants are well fed. We usually prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle, and then grow them on in a cold frame for at least two growing seasons before planting them out when they are in growth in the spring. Division with great care in spring or autumn. Each portion must have a leaf bud. If the lifted root is stood in shade for several hours it becomes less brittle and easier to divide. Divisions that have several buds will usually flower in the second year, but those that only have one or two buds will take a number of years before they have grown sufficiently to flower.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root;  Seed;  Stem.

Root – cooked and eaten in a broth. Stems – cooked. Seed – powdered and mixed with tea.

Constituents: astragalin,benzoic-acid, calcium,copper,gallic-acid,glucose,linoleic-acid,magnesium,paeoniflorin,paeonol,potassium,tannin ,zinc

Medicinal Uses;

Parts Used: Root

Alterative;  Analgesic;  Anodyne;  Antibacterial;  Antiinflammatory;  Antiseptic;  AntispasmodicAstringent;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;
Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Hypotensive;  Nervine;  Tonic;  Women’s complaints.

The root of Chinese peony has been used for over 1,500 years in Chinese medicine. It is known most widely as one of the herbs used to make ‘Four Things Soup’, a woman’s tonic, and it is also a remedy for gynaecological problems and for cramp, pain and giddiness. When the whole root is harvested it is called Chi Shao Yao, if the bark is removed during preparation then it is called Bai Shao Yao. The root is alterative, analgesic, anodyne, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hypotensive, nervine and tonic. The most important ingredient medicinally in the root is paeoniflorin, which has been shown to have a strong antispasmodic effect on mammalian intestines, it also reduces blood pressure, reduces body temperature caused by fever and protects against stress ulcers. It is taken internally in the treatment of menstrual disorders, injuries, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual tension and liver disorders. It should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner and should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. The roots are harvested in the autumn from cultivated plants that are 4 – 5 years old and are boiled before being sun-dried for later use[238, 250]. The roots of wild plants are harvested in the spring or (preferably) in the autumn and are sun-dried for later use. The root is an ingredient of ‘Four Things Soup’, the most widely used woman’s tonic in China[254]. The other species used are Rehmannia glutinosa, Ligusticum wallichii and Angelica sinensis. 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.

Common Uses:
Abrasions/Cuts * Cancer Prevention * Colds * Cough * Dysmenorrhea * Migraine Headache *

It is used as a medicinal herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called  (pinyin: sháo yào; literally: “Peony Medicine”) or (pinyin: bái sháo yào; literally: “White Peony Medicine”). The root is used to reduce fever and pain, and on wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection. An antispasmodic effect is also recorded in the Japanese pharmacopoeia.

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


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