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Balkan peony

Hidden in the meadows of the Black Sea coast, the rare coral-red Balkan Peony ( Paeonia Peregrina ) grows. It is found only on the Balkan Peninsula, especially in Bulgaria and Turkey, and more rarely in Romania and Serbia. It can also be found in local light deciduous forests, bushes and rocky valleys. It belongs to the favourite medicinal herbs there, especially in connection with female beauty and female health. Its dried petals are a treasure of natural medicine. They are hand picked in May and June. And after drying, they acquire a delicate aroma and a sweet-bitter taste.

Peony in folk medicine

Balkan peony is a traditional natural remedy for toning the smooth muscles of the uterus, alleviating menstrual pain, epilepsy or whooping cough. A tea made from dried flower petals is used to suppress a cough. Herbariums also mention the effects of this tea in the treatment of hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Rare flower water

The transformation of dried red flowers of the Balkan peony creates, through the process of distillation, 100% flower water that tones and refreshes the skin. It is ideal for the first wrinkles. And not only that! A compress made from the flower water of the Balkan peony can soothe cracked and irritated skin. It relaxes and relieves nervousness and headaches with its earthy, slightly sweet herbal scent with green notes, which resembles strong green tea. However, don’t expect any delicate flower. Its aroma is really distinctly earthy.

Enchanting coral red color

Whenever you meet them, you will be charmed by the coral red color of their petals. It is caused by the pigment cyanidine , which appears only sporadically in other species. “Thanks to the color of the flower, the Balkan peony has become popular with breeders, we can find it in the family tree of many varieties with poppy or coral red flowers.” (P. Sekerka – Peonies of Europe – known and yet surprising.) In the 16th century, it was brought to Austria-Hungary from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) and labeled as Paeonia femina byzantica. In the Czech taxonomy, we find it as foreign, common or Balkan peony.

In the gardens of the emperors

In China, the peony is a symbol of wealth and power and recognized as the queen of flowers! The first records of its cultivation date from the 3rd century. from the Chinese Chan dynasty. To this day, the peony genus has grown so much that it already has several thousand cultivars. There is even a “peony city” (National Peony Garden) in Luoyang, China, where 100 species of these flowers bloom every year.

Peony in Greek mythology

The Greek name Paeonia is derived from Paeon , the healer of the gods. He angered the god of medicine Asclepius so much with his success that he wanted to take revenge on him. Only the transformation into a beautiful flower saved him.

Peony in medieval legends and today

Did you know that some peoples believed that planted peonies in the garden would protect them from storms and evil?! In medieval France, they made a “Saint Gertrude Rosary”, which was peony seeds strung on a red thread and sprinkled with holy water. This amulet was supposed to ward off evil fairies and goblins. As a symbol of prosperity, red peonies are still used as decorations at weddings. They symbolize happy years together.

Information drawn from:

Pavlína Kourková – Soul of flowers, 2022.

Д-р Д. Памуковр, Проф Х. Akhtardzhiev – Природна аптека, 1981

Pavel Sekerka – Peonies of Europe – known and yet surprising, published in the e-magazine of the Academy of the Czech Republic ŽIVA https://ziva.avcr.cz/files/ziva/pdf/pivonky-evropy-zname-a-presto-udivujici.pdf

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