Peony Root

One man's trash is another man's treasure, or should I say 
"One woman's compost is another woman's medicine."

When dividing or transplanting Peonies, one always ends up with pieces of root...

Did you know this common flower has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal?
It's root is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is called Bai Shao or Chi Shao depending on whether or not the root bark is removed and on which species is used (White or Red).  Likewise, their properties and strengths will differ somewhat, but essentially, Peony Root, one of the herbs I use most often, is bitter, sour, and cooling.  It has astringent, relaxing, calming, decongesting, and relaxing actions.(Please see a qualified health practitioner to see if it's right for you as it has contraindications).

As with all roots one wants to utilize for remedy making, I slice it while it's fresh; it makes for much easier cutting.  Then I either use it fresh or dry it for storage, making sure it is totally dry before storing in an airtight container.  Peony Root can be tinctured or decocted either fresh or dried.  Here is a great book to consult on how that is done.  Of course, you need to consult a professional as to whether or not Peony Root is right for your circumstances; I am not giving advice or recommendations here, but rather educating as to Peony's traditional uses and sharing what I do with it; I am not recommending you do this.

Another consideration when harvesting roots is that ideally one does not harvest when the plant is involved in rapid new growth, flowering, or going to seed as the energy is going up into these processes, rather than being in the root.  This means the ideal time to harvest (and to do divisions for that matter) is fall after the foliage is dying back or very early spring before growth is abundant (or winter if ground is not frozen).  That being said, I do not waste Peony roots if I have a circumstance where they are being divided at a non-ideal time for root harvest.  This happens at times in my landscaping business.  Some plants are affected by this more than others.  I find the resulting Peony roots to be useful nonetheless. 

Ah, the wealth of gardening!

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