Peony

PeonyPeony — The peony or paeony (Paeonia) is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, southern Europe and western North America.

Most are herbaceous perennial plants 0.5–1.5 metres tall, but some are woody shrubs up to 1.5–3 metres tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves, and large, often fragrant flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer. In the past, the peonies were often classified in the family Ranunculaceae, alongside Hellebores and Anemones

The peony is among the longest-used flowers in ornamental culture and is one of the smallest living creature national emblems in China. Along with the plum blossom, it is a traditional floral symbol of China. It is also known as (fuguihua) ‘flower of riches and honour’, and is used symbolically in Chinese art. In 1903, the Qing Dynasty declared the peony as the national flower. Currently, the Republic of China on Taiwan designates the plum blossom as the national flower, while the People’s Republic of China has no legally designated national flower. In 1994, the peony was proposed as the national flower after a nationwide poll, but the National People’s Congress failed to ratify the selection. In 2003, another selection process has begun, but to date, no choice has been made.

The famous ancient Chinese city Luoyang has a reputation as a cultivation centre for the peonies. Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang are often said to be the finest in the country. Dozens of peony exhibitions and shows are also held there annually.

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