Herb: Moutan

Latin name: Paeonia suffruticosa

Synonyms: Paeonia moutan

Family: Paeoniaceae (Peony Family)

Medicinal use of Moutan:

The root and root bark is analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, sedative, styptic and tonic. 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. The plant is used internally in the treatment of fevers, boils, menstrual disorders, nosebleeds, ulcers, irritability and gastro-intestinal infections. This remedy should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The herb acts as a synergist when used with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp). 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:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)



Habitat of the herb:

Scrub in mountains. Cliffs at elevations around 300 metres.

Edible parts of Moutan:

Flowers - cooked. The fallen flower petals are parboiled and sweetened for a teatime delicacy, or cooked in various dishes.

Other uses of the herb:

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

Propagation of Moutan:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Scrub in mountains. Cliffs at elevations around 300 metres.

Known hazards of Paeonia suffruticosa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.