Peonies have been cultivated in China for at least 15 centuries. These many-colored flowers were first cultivated for the medicinal qualities of the roots but have since become a statement of pure beauty. There are thousands of varieties of peonies, and depending on the species and variety, they can bloom in nearly any color. It is not uncommon to see the delicate round petals in yellow, white, red, violet, pink or even nearly black. Just as their colors can vary so much, their size and number of petals also varies greatly. Some may only have five thin petals, while others may have many layers of petals like a full petticoat. There are shrub or tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, which grow a few feet shorter than the shrub peonies.
These are one of China's national flowers. They grow on trees that flower when other things are still dormant. Around February, these round five-petal flowers blossom, throwing color on the landscape. The blossoms can be white to pink or red and are in the Rosaceae (rose) family. There are many bright yellow stamens in the center of the flower's whorl. Prunus salicina is also called winter plum in some areas. These blossom-covered trees have been inspiration for many painters and Asian artists over the years. The sour plums do not ripen until summer.
This plant is also known as sweet olive or tea olive. The blossoms are small and have four to five thick oval petals that are an eggshell white to buttery yellow color. The flowers grow in thick clusters among smooth ovate green leaves. It is in the olive family and also related to jasmine. Sweet osmanthus has a very strong sweet scent and can be used to enhance green or black teas. This is quite a famous Chinese flower and has been used as a traditional symbol of love, fertility and peace at weddings. The flowers thrive in September but if kept warm will bloom through the winter.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.