Moutan (Paeonia suffruticosa)

P. moutan. Sims.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Paeonia suffruticosa

The stems are used as firewood[11]. The plant is quite slow growing so could not really be seen as a source of fuel[K].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root and root bark is analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, sedative, styptic and tonic[46, 61, 174, 176, 178, 218, 279]. An extract of the plant has antibacterial activity, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus, Bacillus dysenteriae, Typhoid bacillus, Paratyphoid bacillus, Proteus, Pseudomonas, E. coli, Haemophilus pertussis and Streptococcus[176, 218]. The plant is used internally in the treatment of fevers, boils, menstrual disorders, nosebleeds, ulcers, irritability and gastro-intestinal infections[238]. This remedy should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238].

    The herb acts as a synergist when used with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp)[218].

    A tea made from the dried crushed petals of various peony species has been used as a cough remedy, and as a treatment for haemorrhoids and varicose veins[250].

  • Edible Use

    Flowers – cooked[46, 61, 177]. The fallen flower petals are parboiled and sweetened for a teatime delicacy, or cooked in various dishes[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[250]. When sown fresh, the seed produces a root about 6 weeks after sowing with shoots formed in the spring[200]. Stored seed is much slower, it should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame but may take 18 months or more to germinate[200]. The roots are very sensitive to disturbance, so many growers allow the seedlings to remain in their pots for 2 growing seasons before potting them up. This allows a better root system to develop that is more resilient to disturbance[250]. If following this practice, make sure you sow the seed thinly, and give regular liquid feeds in the growing season to ensure the plants are well fed. We usually prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle, and then grow them on in a cold frame for at least two growing seasons before planting them out when they are in growth in the spring[K].
Requires a deep rich soil, preferably neutral or slightly alkaline[1], doing quite well in sun or light shade[1]. Prefers a limy soil and a sheltered position[200]. Plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but will not survive if the soil becomes waterlogged or is too dry[250]. This species is lime tolerant[200]. Plants grown on sandy soils tend to produce more leaves and less flowers, whilst those growing on clay take longer to become established but produce better blooms[250]. Hardy to about -20¡c[184], plants do better in the north of Britain than they do in the south and are generally best if given an open northerly aspect[11]. Plants come into growth early in the year and are then subject to damage by late frosts, they are therefore best sited in a position that is shaded from the early morning sun[11]. The branches are brittle and very subject to wind damage, especially when young[200]. There is some confusion over the name of this species, Chinese botanists believing that it was based on a cultivar. They do not recognise this name, instead raising to specific status two of its sub-species as P. rockii (Haw.&Lauener.) Hong.&Li. and P. jishanensis Hong.&W.Z.Zhao (syn P. spontanea (Rehder.) Hong.&W.Z.Zhao.)[214]. Most modern treatments no longer recognise this as a separate species, though some people use the name to house the large number of garden forms of tree peonies that have been developed over the centuries[250]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are many named varieties[182]. It grows best in areas with long hot summers[1] and requires an airy position because it is very subject to fungal attack[11]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. The flowers of some forms of this species are pleasantly scented[245]. Scented forms include ‘Flora’, ‘Fragrans Maxima’, ‘Kimpai’ and ‘Kokuho'[245]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. A very greedy plant inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54]. The plant does not really need much pruning apart from removing dead or diseased stems. It is, however, very tolerant of pruning and can be cut right back to ground level if it requires rejuvenation[200]. Strongly resents root disturbance, taking some time to recover after being divided[1]. Peony species are usually self-fertile, though they will also hybridise with other species if these flower nearby at the same time[250]. Plants take 4 – 5 years to flower from seed[200]. They generally breed true from seed[1]. Cultivated in China as a medicinal plant[214].
E. Asia – China to the Himalayas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.