As fall pervades our lives up here in Western Washington, thinking about luscious fragrant flowers brightens my day. There is something magical about peonies, those bright orbs of aromatic petals. Apparently my fascination with peonies is shared by many and goes back thousands of years.
La Pivoinerie D'Aoust spells it out:
"Arguably the first use of peonies by people was for their medicinal value. There is evidence that peonies were used extensively in both the Far East and Europe as long as two thousand years ago. Many parts of the plant are purported to have medicinal properties. Roots, bark, seeds and flowers were all believed to be of some medicinal use.
In texts describing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) three peony preparations are well known. The first is Mu Dan Pi, which is made from the bark of tree peonies, and is said to cool the blood as well as have antibacterial properties. Chi Shao Yao is made from the root of the herbaceous peony P. lactiflora and is also said to cool the blood and relieve pain. Bai Shao Yao is made from the same roots but with the bark removed and is said to nourish the blood.
Peony seeds have been swallowed whole to prevent bad dreams or used in a poultice to relieve stomach aches. Flower petals have been dried and used to make a tea that was reputed to soothe a cough. They were considered a panacea. In the middle ages there where not many ailments that peonies were not thought to soothe!"
There is something so understated, simple & elegant about a bundle of peonies in a simple glass vase. What is your favorite flower?