Discover the Most Fascinating Fun Facts About Peonies

Discover the Most Fascinating Fun Facts About Peonies

An exciting time in the floral calendar has come, peony season has begun! This gorgeous flower starts as a tight bud and opens to reveal layers and layers of delicate petals. Peony season is short-lived (mid-October until the end of November/mid-December), which makes them even more special! You won’t believe the wealth of history and tradition that surrounds this magical flower.

coral peonies

Fun facts about Peonies

  1. There are currently 33 known species of peony, though this is still hotly debated by scientists, with their estimates ranging from 25 to 40.
  2. These flowers have one of the largest blooms. They grow up to 10 inches in diameter and can have up to 13 free petals.
  3. Peonies bloom in late spring through to early summer – so we typically see them between October and mid-December in Australia.
  4. They only bloom for a short time, normally only 7-10 days. And they sadly last even less time once they’ve been cut.
  5. Despite their short blooming period, the plants themselves have an incredibly long lifespan, living up to 100 years! Which means if you plant a Peony, it may well outlive you.
  6. Insects love Peonies. They are especially known to attract ants and butterflies.
  7. Coming in a huge variety of colours, there are peonies in every colour apart from blue. Though they’re most commonly found in purple, pink, red and white.

    picking peonies from the garden
  8. Believe it or not, some peonies can change colour! Coral Charm Peonies change from a vivid coral colour to yellow, and eventually to cream as they mature.
  9. Peonies are native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America.
  10. Best grown in colder climates, they can be found in the mountain districts of Australia, parts of Victoria, and Tasmania.
  11. Peonies are very popular in the United States. In fact, they were made the state flower of Indiana in 1957, and are grown commercially in Alaska!
  12. The Peony gets its name from a Greek mythological figure. Paeon was known as the healer of Gods, having been a student of Asclepius (the God of medicine and healing). Legend has it that poor Paeon was turned into a Peony by Zeus, to save him from his jealously murderous teacher!
  13. Speaking of Greek myths, some say Peonies actually get their name from the nymph Paeonia (which is also the name of the plant genus). The God Apollo fell in love with a beautiful nymph, who turned red with embarrassment. Supposedly, jealous Aphrodite reacted by turning her into a red peony! This might explain why, in the language of flowers, peonies represent bashfulness and are often given as gifts of apology.

    peonies table centrepiece
  14. Peonies have been highly valued in Asia for their unique beauty, and are referred to as the King or Queen of flowers in both China and Japan.
  15. They’ve been cultivated for over 1000 years in China, and were even named the national flower in 1903. Though, they’ve since been superseded by the plum blossom.
  16. Chinese emperors grew them in the imperial gardens, so these flowers came to symbolise riches, honour and high status.
  17. There’s an ancient tie between the city of Luoyang in China and Peonies. They’re celebrated as the city’s flower, and millions visit every year for the Peony Culture Festival of Luoyang.
  18. Peony petals are edible and were used as flavouring in food in ancient China. Confucius reportedly said, “I eat nothing without its sauce. I enjoy it very much, because of its flavour.”
  19. They’ve been used medicinally throughout history, from ancient China and Greece to the Middle Ages. The petals, roots and seeds were all considered to have medicinal uses.
  20. Anything that’s been around as long as the Peony has a few superstitions surrounding it. In mediaeval times, it was said the roots had to be dug up at night, or a woodpecker would peck out your eyes!
  21. There’s even a variety of Peonies that are said to represent the blood of soldiers who died in the Battle of Kosovo. They’re now aptly named Kosovo Peonies.
  22. The Peony is used to celebrate 12th wedding anniversaries. And no wonder – they have the symbolic meaning of good fortune, prosperity, and a happy marriage.
coral peonies bouquet by Fig & Bloom
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