Shrub peony

The origin and spread of the shrub peony

The shrub peony began to be known in China, since the years preceding the birth of Christ. From here, it was then exported to Japan, probably by monks, who favored a greater selection, with the production of lighter and simpler flowers. The plants were then further crossed in Europe, where numerous varieties still known today were created. In the last years of the twentieth century, a Japanese crossed a herbaceous species (these particularly widespread in Italy and characterized by long stems that branch off from the roots) with a shrub species. The peonies obtained, called intersectional hybrids, presented intermediate characters between the parents, with a woody stem and a flower typical of herbaceous species; these varieties are still quite rare today.

The shrub peony consists of a woody stem that can reach up to two meters in height, and of flowers of different shapes and colors. Generally, the most popular are those with yellow or white flowers. The stems, with large, serrated leaves, are smooth, thin and branched. The flowers are quite flamboyant and differ in shape. The simple ones are made up of a couple or more turns of petals, and the internal reproductive components are well evident in them. The Japanese species also has a very simple corolla, but the stamens placed inside it are more flattened and almost take on the appearance of petals, so much so as to speak of petaloids. The total transformation of the stamens into petals occurs in the “crown” variety, in which the flower has an almost spherical shape.

The cultivation and care of the shrub peony

The shrub peony is planted in a period between September and November, in a permeable and well-drained soil, which prevents water stagnation. Plants prefer positions exposed to sunlight for most of the day; they also resist very well to frost and drought. Peonies can multiply, as well as through sowing, also by lateral or central grafting, carried out in the summer period. These plants can be affected by fungal and bacterial diseases; to protect them from contagions, it is necessary to disinfect with cupric products, also eliminating the flowers and withered branches. A tamping of the soil around the base of the stem is necessary at appropriate intervals of time and a light wetting in the driest periods.

Shrub peony: The therapeutic properties of shrub peony

According to Greek myths, the shrub peony was used for the first time by the doctor Peone (hence the name of the flower) to heal a wound to Pluto, who gave him the gift of immortality as a recognition, transforming him into a peony. Even today, the root is used as a pain reliever and sedative thanks to its antispasmodic properties. The topical solutions obtained from peonies are excellent remedies against fissures, hemorrhoids and fistulas. Moreover, thanks to its calming properties, it is used in the treatment of anxiety, migraines, agitation, insomnia and above all as a cure for epilepsy. In cosmetics, it is found in extracts with remarkable antioxidant and moisturizing capacities; the elixirs fight the free radicals responsible for the premature aging of the skin, keeping it young and healthy.

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