|The Peony Princess|
I recently took a couple days off to head down to Henan Province, Luoyang to be precise, to visit the Mudan Peony Festival, something I have wanted to do for many years. I was not disappointed! Luoyang is a small city by Chinese standards, around 2.5 million people. The new section of the city on the Southern bank of the Luo River is in stark contrast to the old part of the city on the Northern bank. Luoyang is one of the cities in China that has been the capital city of the country on several occasions, it does, in fact, sit geographically in the center of the original part of China.
The Peony Festival was absolutely fabulous. Like all festivals in China there were a lot of people, but I went during the week when it was relatively uncrowded. In fact, I was asked upon returning to Beijing if there were more people than peonies, but in fact I would have to say, no! There are supposed to be over 140 varieties of tree peony on site. I didn’t count all that I saw and there was not good signage, but there were a stunning variety of flowers and forms. I have included a couple photos for your viewing pleasure.
Up-date: Well, as most of you may know the root bark of Peaonia suffruticosa is used as mu dan pi (牡丹皮) in many formulas and is frequently used to modify other formulas. This herb is considered bitter, acrid, and slightly cold, while entering the heart, liver, and kidney channels. Its main functions are to clear heat and cool the blood, quicken the blood and dissipate depression. It is used for a multitude of diseases where heat has entered the blood aspect.
This herb first appeared in the Shen Nong Ben Cao, although it likely was in earlier books that are no longer available to us. The Ben Cao Gang Mu says that is harmonized the blood, engenders the blood, cools the blood, and expels vexation heat.
This is a very important medicinal in the Chinese materia medica. It is used in 6-10g dosages. The flower is also used occasionally to harmonize woman’s menstrual cycles.