Always considered the queen of flowers, especially in the Eastern world, peony is characterized by deciduous leaves, countless flowering stamens and corollas with various chromatic nuances that enclose large black seeds similar to fruits. Two large families are distinguished: herbaceous peonies and arboreal or shrubby peonies. Herbaceous peonies have tuberous roots and generally reach a height of one meter, while tree peonies form tangles of shrubs that grow up to two meters in height.
A lover of the mild climate, peony is naturally widespread in a large part of the northern hemisphere and in particular in the temperate areas of Europe, North Africa, Western America and some Asian regions. In Italy it is present in the paeonia mascula variety throughout the national territory with the exception of the Adriatic side and the islands, it grows spontaneously in undergrowth areas under the penumbra of beech or oak trees, where it revives the vegetation with the crimson colors characteristic of this variety.
History in Chinese culture
In ancient Chinese culture, having such plants was the prerogative of only imperial families, by virtue of the exceptional properties attributed to it that made them a symbol of prosperity and happiness. One of the countless legends related to peony tells of the Emperor of Catai who, wanting to impose his supremacy on all the flora, ordered all the flowers of his gardens to bloom in unison. However, the peony refused and was therefore relegated to the snowy peaks of the mountains where, despite the frost, it bloomed laughing and radiant and the empress could not help but bow to the majesty of the queen of flowers. It is precisely the adaptability of these plants together with their aesthetic pleasantness that has made it possible to experiment crossings of various species, whose hybrids of extraordinary beauty stimulate the interest of many collectors. Especially in China, the motherland of peony, hybridization between species belonging to the arboreal group with herbaceous specimens has given rise to intersectional varieties with a unique flowering.