Paeonia lutea var. ludlowii
In China, peonies may first have been used for their medicinal
properties as long as 2,000 years ago. The roots in particular are
used to reduce fever and pain and to prevent infection in wounds.
Peonies are also prized for their dramatic beauty, colour
Both tree peonies and herbaceous peonies are cultivated in China – together they are considered the ‘king of flowers’. They were first grown as ornamental plants in the AD 600s, and at one time were protected by imperial law.
Peonies are symbols of spring and, because they were grown in early imperial gardens, are associated with royalty. They also came to symbolise wealth and honour. Peonies often appear in Chinese paintings, wood carvings and on silks, porcelain and lacquer objects.
Right: A Chinese New Year lucky money envelope, decorated with a peony.