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Peony


    Scientific Names

    Peony
    Peony
    • Paeonia officinalis L.
    • Rununculaceae
    • Peony family

    Common Name

    ivyCommon peony
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    Parts Usually Used

    Root
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    The peony is a perennial plant; the thick, knobby rootstock produces a green, juicy stem from 2-3 feet high. The leaves are ternate or bi-ternate, with large, ovate-lanceolate leaflets. The large, solitary, red or purplish-red flowers resemble roses and bloom from May to August.

    Other varieties: The tree peony (P. suffruticosa); the root is used similarly to the common peony. The wild peony (P. brownii); a tea from roots for lung trouble. Batipi, (N. Paiute); Doo yah gum hoo (Washoes); Newatama, (Paiute).
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    Where Found

    Grows wild in southern Europe and is cultivated as a garden flower elsewhere.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, sedative

    Cultivated peony used as blood tonic

    Wild red peony used more as an emmenagogue
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    Biochemical Information

    5% asparagin and benzoic acid, also paeoniflorin, paeonol, paeonin, triterpenoids, sistosterol
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    Nez Perce Indians said to be the finest light cavalry in the world at the time of Chief Joseph, were very horse-conscious, and lost no opportunity to improve horse-racing. The seeds of wild peony were chewed and then put in the horseís mouth an instant before the race began. He always won.

    According to the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), the peony was the oldest of all cultivated flowers, during the Trojan Wars. Modern botanists have no way of authenticating Plinyís statement, but we do know that the Chinese emperor Chin Ming (2737-2697 BC) cultivated these flowers. The peony takes its name from the Greek legendary physician Paeon who first learned of the plantís important medicinal use of lessening the pains of childbirth. Paeon was said to have been eventually transformed into a peony by Zeus. In the Middle Ages ground peony seeds were taken as a preventative against bad and melancholy dreams.

    Today, the root is still valued in Chinese medicine, where 2 species are used: both the red-and-white flowered (P. lactiflora) and (P. suffruticosa) or the tree peony.
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    Uses

    In Europe, the root is an old remedy for jaundice and for kidney and bladder problems. An extract made by steeping the root in wine was generally used. A decoction of the root has been used for gout, asthma with cramps, dysmenorrhea, and in very small doses, eclampsia. Cultivated peony used as blood tonic; wild red peony used more as an emmenagogue. Also used for chorea, epilepsy, spasms and other neurological affections. In large doses it is said to be emetic and cathartic.

    Externally, bruised root applied to wounds soon heal and quickly takes away the black and blue marks of bruises and blows.
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    Warning

    The entire plant is poisonous, the flowers especially so. A tea made from flowers can be fatal. Do not use without medical supervision.
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    Bibliography

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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