Spotlight on the Peony
It's peony season! A favourite time for many florists. The luscious, blowsy peony is such a statement flower and adds a touch of flair to any arrangement. I love the dramatic nature of the peony, a flower you can't miss; they take the limelight in many floral designs. Peonies come in a variety of shades, from a very light pink to a dark red.
The Peony is best known by its scientific name, Paeonia. The Peony takes its name from the mythological Greek character Paeon, who studied with the god of medicine known as Asclepius. Zeus had to transform the student into a beautiful flower when he showed more promise than his teacher and incurred his wrath.
The peony is the official emblem of China and plays an important role in many East Asian cultures, usually associated with honour and royalty in Eastern societies. The Chinese name for peony translates as 'most beautiful' and it's hard to argue with this translation when you see a peony in full bloom. One of the most popular cities in China to see peonies is Luoyang, which is sometimes referred to as the City of Peony. It houses the National Peony Garden, which has over 100 different kinds of peonies and hosts an annual peony festival.
However, in Western societies the historic connotations of the peony are somewhat different. In one greek myth, the peony is tied to a nymph named Paeonia. Paeonia is beautiful and attracts the attention of Apollo, who begins to flirt with her. When Paeonia realizes that Aphrodite is watching them, she becomes bashful and turns bright red. In anger, Aphrodite transforms the nymph into a red peony. This is how the peony came to symbolize bashfulness. This led to the association of Peonies with shamefulness and bashfulness during the Victorian era.
In the language of flowers the peony is said to represent the following:
- Honour, especially for people who are bringing honor to their entire family through success
- Wealth and riches
- Romance and romantic love, with a particular focus on love between two strangers
- Beauty in all forms
- Bashfulness and shame
The meaning of the peony varies little from colour to colour, however ,pink is the most romantic shade and it often a popular choice for wedding bouquets and arrangements. The rich-red peony is the colour most valued in Chinese society and often represents honour and respect, this shade would make a great gift for someone you admire.
Alongside being a beautiful bloom the peony also has medicinal properties, mostly used in Eastern medicine.
One particular form of Peony, known as the Paeonia herb, has been a part of Eastern Traditional Medicine for centuries. It’s considered a purifying herb used against evil spirits. Traditional Medicine doctors also prescribe it for abdominal pain, urination problems, and general sluggishness. Recent scientific testing into the compounds found in the common Peony show great promise in treating mast cell accumulation, severe antibiotic resistant infections, and inflammatory responses with no direct cause. However, these results all came from purified extracts of the plant, so don’t expect the same results if you try ingesting Peony bark on your own. (Source Flower Meaning)