Herb: Brown's Peony

Latin name: Paeonia brownii

Family: Paeoniaceae (Peony Family)

Medicinal use of Brown's Peony:

The root is cardiac, febrifuge, laxative and pectoral. A decoction has been used by some native North American Indian tribes in the treatment of pneumonia, tuberculosis, VD, nausea, indigestion, coughs, diarrhoea and kidney troubles. A decoction of the sun-dried roots has been used to help people put on weight. A decoction of the root has been used as a liniment on swellings. An infusion of the root has been used as a wash for sore eyes. A powder of the dried and ground root can be used as a dressing on cuts, wounds, burns and sores. A poultice of the crushed roots has been used to treat boils, deep cuts and wounds. A cold infusion of the seeds has been used as a cough medicine. 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.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Sagebrush desert and ponderosa pine forest at altitudes of 900 - 1800 metres.

Edible parts of Brown's Peony:

Root. A liquorice flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

The seeds can be used as beads in necklaces etc.

Propagation of Brown's Peony:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. When sown fresh, the seed produces a root about 6 weeks after sowing with shoots formed in the spring. 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. 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. 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. Division with great care in spring or autumn. Each portion must have a leaf bud. If the lifted root is stood in shade for several hours it becomes less brittle and easier to divide. Divisions that have several buds will usually flower in the second year, but those that only have one or two buds will take a number of years before they have grown sufficiently to flower.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sagebrush desert and ponderosa pine forest at altitudes of 900 - 1800 metres.

Known hazards of Paeonia brownii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.