牡丹 (Mu Dan) & 芍药 (Shao Yao)
Peony is one of my favorite flowers. In Chinese, the two types of peonies have completely different names, but they belong to the same family: Paeoniaceae.
In English, their name reflects more obviously the difference : Tree Peony and Herbaceous (bush) Peony. Tree peony flowers are supported by woody branches and lose their leaves in winter while leaving woody stems; bush peonies have non-woody, green stems, they die back in winter and regrow in spring. Tree peonies have bigger flowers and they bloom 15-30 days earlier then herbaceous peonies.
Tree Peony, 牡丹 (mǔdān), is the national flower of China, it is also known as “flower of riches and honour”. In Chinese culture, Tree Peony is also called “King of Flowers” while Herbaceous Peony is called the “Prime Minister of Flowers”.
Thanks to a Japanese donation, Parc Floral of Paris hosts a large collection of Peonies. End April, begging May is the season of Tree Peonies, while some of Herbaceous Peonies are not yet in bloom.