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Peony (or paeony) is a name for plants in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia and Southern Europe and were introduced into England by the Roman legions.
Most are perennial plants reaching a height of 0.5–1.5 meters, but some grow up to 1.5–3 meters tall, resembling small trees. They have deeply lobed leaves, and large, often fragrant flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow. The Peony blooms in late spring and early summer.
In addition to being a hardy plant the Peony is also a warehouse of chemical and biological compounds. Over 250 compounds have been obtained so far from the plants of Paeoniaceae. These include flavonoids, tannins, steroids, paeonols, and phenols. Just some of the biological activities include Antioxidant, Antitumor,, Immune-System-Modulation, Cardiovascular-System-Protective, and Central-Nervous-System Activities. Click here to learn how Peonies may help ease side-effects of chemotherapy.
Peonies being used for their medicinal properties appears to go back as far as two thousand years ago in both the Far East and Europe!
Here are a few basic facts and some trivia about the Peony
- Peonies are drought resistant, require very low maintenance, and are generally very long lived (over 50 years)
- Peonies have been cultivated for more than 2000 years as medicinal and ornamental plants.
- Peonies (along with the Plum Blossoms) are the traditional floral symbols of China, where it is called Mudan. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty declared the Peony as the national flower of China.
- Peonies come in a range of colours, including yellow, coral, peach and lavender, in addition to white, blush, pink, magenta, and red
- Flowers come in a wide range of forms, including single, semi-double, double, Japanese( single w/ large yellow centers), and anemone style blossoms. The most common type sold in North America are the double flower types.
- The number of Peony growers in Alaska is climbing steady and many view peonies as the states next cash crop due to the unique northern growing season.
The Peony as a cut flower
Peonies can be seen at many weddings and party events, even though their vase life as a cut flower tends to be a rather short 2 – 7 days. Avoid buying peonies where the flowers are open as you may experience a shortened vase life, at the other end of the spectrum stay away from peonies with excessively tight buds as these may never open.
Care & Handling:
- Cut at least 1″ from stem ends with sharp knife or flower cutters.
- Place in preservative solution made with warm water (100°-110°F).
- Keep and display peonies in the coolest area of your home, keep out of warm temperatures.
- Flowers will thrive under high light but don’t do well with direct sunlight
- Avoid drafts.
- Peonies do not appear to be ethylene sensitive.