"Peony is the masterpiece of the Chinese ... and, it must be added, it is the maximum sublimation of the cabbage: woe if in the highest manifestation you could not perceive even a shadow of the lowest. It is difficult for me to express the great passion I have for peonies ... ".
With these words, in accordance with Eastern philosophy, the botanist Ippolito Pizzetti expresses himself about peony plants.
In the east and particularly in China, "the queen of flowers" is the subject of a real cult and already 1000 years before Christ it was protected by the emperor, who generously paid for the most beautiful varieties, thus promoting the work of crossing and selection of generations of hybridizers. Thanks to the imperial favor, peony flowers also became the main decorative motif of Chinese porcelain, especially from the Ching and Ming periods.
Peony in Europe
In Europe peonies are present with numerous species, all herbaceous, and are known in ancient times above all for their medicinal virtues; in Greek mythology, in fact, Peon, doctor of the gods and pupil of Aesculapius, heals Pluto from a wound using peony roots, the god to thank him and take him away from his colleagues' envy gives him immortality, transforming him into a flower: the peony .
In Europe the ornamental value of peonies, especially of the arboreal ones, unknown until then in our continent, is appreciated starting from the 17th century, after which following the travels of some English and French botanists their cultivation was introduced; we must, however, wait for the early 1900s so that thanks to the work of the French botanists Louis Henry, Maxim Cornщ and Pierre Lemoine we can admire the first yellow peonies huge and double flowered, hybrids of the Paeonia suffruticosa, cultivated for centuries in China and Japan and of the Paeonia lutea, a yellow flower species described for the first time and brought to Europe from China by Abbot Delavay in the late 1800s together with that which will be called Paeonia delavayi.