The Powerful Peony

Pearl S. Buck loved the peony and so did the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908).  The Chinese Peony is the Paeonia lactiflora. Along with the plum blossom, the peony is a traditional floral symbol of Mongolia and China. The peony comes as a shrub and a tree. There is even an Ode to Peonies.

Red Peonies

The peony is also known as the “flower of riches and honor” and is used symbolically in Chinese art. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty made the peony the national flower. Today, there is no national flower in the PRC, which is still under considered, while Taiwan has named the plum blossom as the national flower for the so-called Republic of China.

The World Health Organization reports that the dried root of the Radix Paeonia (red peony) is used to treat dementia, headache, vertigo, spasms of the calf muscles, liver disease, and allergies and as an anticoagulant. (pg 198, World Health Organization)  These uses have been described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine.

Traditional Chinese medicine claims that drinking Bai Mudan (white peony tea) helps dispel heat within the body and enhances immune function while protecting the heart and blood vessels. Source: Chinese Food World

See the Shanghai Huxinting Teahouse


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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