Paeonia lactiflora

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Paeonia lactiflora
Wild form of Paeonia lactiflora
Wild form of Paeonia lactiflora
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia
Species: P. lactiflora
Binomial name
Paeonia lactiflora
Pall.

Paeonia lactiflora, or Chinese Peony ( or in Chinese; pinyin: sháo or bái sháo; bái meaning "white") is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Paeoniaceae, native to central and eastern Asia from eastern Tibet across northern China to eastern Siberia. It is about 60-100 cm tall with large compound leaves 20-40 cm long. The flower buds are large and round, opening into large flowers 8-16 cm diameter, with 5-10 white, pink, or crimson petals and yellow stamens.

It is used a medicinal herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called (pinyin: sháo yào) or (pinyin: bái sháo yào). The root is used to reduce fever and pain, and on wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection. An antispasmodic effect is also recorded in the Japanese pharmacopoeia.

It is also widely grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, with several hundred selected cultivars; many of the cultivars have double flowers, with the stamens modified into additional petals. In China, however, it is less highly valued as an ornamental plant than the cultivars of tree peony Paeonia rockii (tree peony, known as ziban mǔ dān in Chinese) and its hybrid Paeonia x suffruticosa, or mǔ dān (牡丹 ).

The cultivars could be arranged in three cultivar groups:

  • Single-flowered. Petals in a single row, stamens fertile. Resembles the wild type, but usually larger.
  • Japanese-flowered. Petals in a single or double row. Stamens transformed into sterile staminoides.
  • Double-flowered. All or most of the stamens transformed into petals.

Synonyms for P. lactiflora include P. albiflora, P. chinensis, P. edulis, P. fragrans, P. lactea, P. reevesiana, and P. sinensis [1].

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