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Peony Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

As I dive into the enchanting realm of flowers, my attention is irresistibly drawn to the resplendent peony.

In this blog, I invite you to join me on a journey to unveil the profound peony flower meaning, explore its spiritual symbolism, and decode the intricate language of its colors.

These magnificent blooms have long captivated our hearts and traditions, embodying stories and emotions with each petal.

Together, let's uncover the hidden narratives and the deep significance that peonies bring to the world of flowers.

peony flower meaning

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese Elegance and Prosperity: In Chinese tradition, the peony is revered as the "king of flowers," symbolizing wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. Reserved for the elite, it holds a special place in ceremonies and celebrations.
  • Japanese Symbol of Honor: The peony migrated to Japan, becoming a symbol of beauty, bravery, and honor. In Japanese art and literature, it represents the warrior's spirit and is associated with rituals marking military prowess.
  • Western Romance and Innocence: In the West, the peony's aesthetic charm influences its meaning, representing bashfulness and young love. Healthy peonies are linked to joy and celebrations, while superstitions warn against uprooting or letting them wither.
  • Linguistic Roots and Myths: The name "peony" has ties to ancient Greece, with myths involving healing gods, nymphs, and transformations. These stories add layers to the flower's cultural and symbolic significance.
  • Colorful Messages: Peonies convey diverse meanings based on color. Pink signifies love and romance, white represents purity and elegance, red symbolizes passion and vigor, yellow expresses happiness, and purple denotes royalty.
  • Cultural Impact: Peonies hold profound cultural significance globally. In China, they are associated with nobility; in Japan, they symbolize prosperity; and in the West, they embody romance. They play roles in Feng Shui practices and feature prominently in various celebrations.
  • Symbolic Tattoos: Peony tattoos, especially in Eastern cultures, symbolize masculinity, bravery, and a 'devil-may-care' attitude. They are chosen for their association with prosperity, risk-taking, and the transient nature of life.
  • Versatility in Celebrations: Peonies are popular choices for special occasions, such as weddings and anniversaries. They are associated with joy, happiness, and romantic unions, making them ideal for expressing love and admiration.

What Does The Peony Flower Mean?

The meaning of the peony varies across countries and cultures. Originating in China around 1000 BC, it holds a significant place in Chinese tradition, often referred to as the 'king of flowers.'

Peonies were reserved for the wealthy and influential, symbolizing wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. In the 8th century, they made their way to Japan, becoming a symbol of beauty, bravery, and honor in Japanese art and literature.

In the West, the peony's aesthetic beauty influenced its meaning, representing bashfulness and young love.

Some Victorians believed that uprooting a peony would bring curses from fairies to their garden, and others thought that letting peonies wither in a vase would bring bad luck to the house.

However, healthy and happy peonies have always been associated with celebrations and joy.


Exploring the Linguistic Roots of the Peony Flower's Name

  • Origin of Name 'Peony': The name 'peony' likely originates from ancient Greece, and multiple theories surround its origin.
  • Paeon and Hades: In one version, the name is linked to Paeon, the physician of the Greek gods, who used the milky liquid from a flower to heal Hades, leading to the flower being named the peony.
  • Paeon's Transformation: Another story involves Paeon, a student of Asclepius, who was transformed into a flower by Zeus to protect him from a jealous mentor, giving rise to the name 'peony.'
  • Nymph Peonia: The third theory centers on a nymph named Peonia, who was turned into a peony by Aphrodite out of jealousy when Apollo flirted with her, eventually leading to the flower's name.
Linguistic Roots Of The Peony Flower


Unveiling the Deep Symbolism Behind Peony Flowers

Due to the story of Peonia, the peony flower has come to symbolize bashfulness and beauty in western culture.

This meaning has been further enhanced due to the fact that peonies take a long time to establish when they are moved or first planted. But, once they finally do bloom, they continue to do so for many decades.

This links to the theme of female bashfulness, and coming-of-age. However, in Japan it symbolizes something quite different.

In the east, they see the peony as a very masculine flower. They used it in rituals and ceremonies to mark military bravery and honor.

Therefore, seen as the flower of the warrior. Its flamboyant blooms are less as petticoat frills, and more as reflective of the warrior's garb.

Through art and culture, this meaning evolved, and the flower has become a symbol of masculine youth and prowess, pleasure and playfulness.

A disregard for consequences and recklessness with regard for rules also associated with the flower.

In China, the peony is very much tied to the symbolism of wealth and riches. Also, emperors favored them for many centuries.

Deciphering The Significance Of Peony Flower Colors

Color Symbolism
Pink Love, romance, happiness, joy, and celebration
White Bashfulness, apology, subtlety, and elegance
Red Bravery, vigor, passion, and amorous love

Peonies come in a variety of different colors and shades, but three of the most common are pink, white and red. So full and voluptuous are their blooms that they are favorites among florists and flower arrangers.

Peony Flower Colors


Pink Peony

Pink peonies symbolize love, romance, and affection, making them a popular choice for expressing feelings of admiration and adoration.

White Peony

White peonies represent purity, innocence, and a sense of calm, often used in weddings to signify a pure and happy marriage.

Red Peony

Red peonies symbolize deep passion, desire, and strong emotions, making them a suitable choice for expressing intense love.

Yellow Peony

Yellow peonies convey happiness, friendship, and positive energy, making them a symbol of joy and good fortune.

Coral Peony

Coral peonies combine the meanings of pink and orange, representing friendship, love, and enthusiasm.

Purple Peony

Purple peonies symbolize royalty, wealth, and luxury, making them a choice for expressing admiration and prosperity.

Variegated Peony

Peonies with a mix of colors can convey a blend of emotions and sentiments, providing a more nuanced message.


Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Peony Flower

The peony is a flowering plant of the Paeonia genus, from the Paeoniaceae family.

These flowers are native to Asia, Europe and North Western America and there are currently 33 different species within the genus. There are over 6500 different varieties of peony and many cultivated more all the time.

They flower in late spring, early summer, and have a short flowering time of between 7 and 10 days. They require lots of exposure to sunlight and a temperate climate to prosper.

Most peonies are herbaceous plants that grow between 1 and 3 feet in height. However, some species are woody shrubs that can grow as high as 11 feet tall.

In recent times, many cultivated hybrid which combines elements of both tree and herbaceous varieties. These peonies are Itoh peonies.

Botanical Characteristics Of The Peony Flower

The Netherlands is currently the largest producer of cut peonies in the world, accounting for over 40 percent of all growth and distribution.

However, there is a fast growing competitor on the scene.

Alaska has become an extremely successful and prolific producer of cut peonies thanks to its cool temperatures and extended hours of sunlight.

As peonies love exposure to the sun, Alaska is able to cultivate and harvest these flowers for longer periods of time.

When the rest of the world's peonies have closed up for winter, Alaskan peonies are still able to bloom and grow.

Peony Flowers: The Perfect Blooms For Special Occasions

Peony flowers are a very popular choice for bridal bouquets and wedding displays, due to their associations with joy, happiness, and romance.

They are also the flower that is traditionally given on 12th wedding anniversaries.

In Japan and China, the flowers were used during special occasions to honor warriors and soldiers for their bravery, valor, courage and sacrifice.


The Rich Cultural Significance Of Peony Flowers

Culture Symbolism
Chinese Wealth, prosperity, honor
Japanese Good luck, beauty, bravery, and honor
Greek Mythology Transformation, healing, and jealousy
Western Romance, love, happy marriage
Feng Shui Love and romance attraction
Medicinal Use Pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects
Tattoo Symbolism Transformation and personal growth

The peony flower holds deep cultural significance in various parts of the world, symbolizing a range of meanings and beliefs. Here's an overview of the cultural significance of peony flowers:

Chinese Culture

In China, the peony is known as the "King of Flowers" and is a symbol of wealth, honor, and nobility. It represents good fortune and a happy marriage. The Chinese city of Luoyang is famous for its peony festival, showcasing thousands of peony varieties.

Japanese Culture

The peony, or "botan" in Japanese, is considered a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. It's associated with honor and respect, and it often appears in art, clothing, and festivals.

Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, the peony is linked to the story of Paeon, a healer to the gods. Asclepius, the god of medicine, became jealous of Paeon's abilities and tried to kill him. To save Paeon, Zeus turned him into the peony flower.

Western Culture

In Western cultures, the peony is often associated with romance, love, and beauty. It can symbolize a happy and blissful marriage, making it a popular choice in bridal bouquets.

Feng Shui

Peonies are believed to bring positive energy and good luck in Feng Shui. They are used to attract love and romance and are often placed in the southwest area of the home.

Medical Uses

Traditional Chinese medicine and herbal remedies use the peony for its medicinal properties. It's believed to have healing properties and is used for various ailments.


Peony tattoos are popular in many cultures and are often chosen for their beauty and symbolism, which can vary from love and prosperity to healing and transformation.

Emblems and Heraldry

In some Western heraldic traditions, the peony is used as a symbol of bravery and nobility. It can represent qualities like honor and dignity.

Seasonal Festivals

Peonies are featured in numerous festivals worldwide. For example, the Ueno Taito Peony Garden Festival in Japan celebrates the blooming of peonies each spring.


Peonies are a favorite choice for wedding flowers in many cultures. They are often used in bridal bouquets, centerpieces, and floral arrangements to symbolize love, happiness, and a prosperous union.

Versatile Applications Of Peony Flowers

Although the flower is now mainly used as an ornamental bloom, the peony was initially used in Chinese medicine.

The seeds and roots of the plant were used to alleviate headaches and migraines, and to help those suffering from asthma.

The leaves of the plant were used to treat convulsions, as well as liver disease, kidney disease and several other illnesses.

Studies in more recent years have suggested that peonies may have mood boosting properties that can help with anxiety and depression.

They are also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to treat blood clots and alleviate bodily aches and pains.

They have been used to treat bladder and kidney issues in European medicine, but they are known to create gastrointestinal problems if they are over consumed by humans, dogs or cats.

Versatile Applications Of Peony Flowers


Unveiling The Meaning Behind Peony Flower Tattoos

Peonies are very popular as tattoos, particularly in Japan and China. They are often chosen by men rather than women, as they are associated with masculinity in eastern culture.

Along with carp, koi fish and cranes, peony tattoos are thought to capture the transitory nature of our time on earth, and the value in living life for each day.

The flower’s blossoms are both fragile and flamboyant, symbolizing how quickly youth and beauty pass.

Peony tattoos often symbolize a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude and a youthful recklessness.

Masculine qualities of bravery, physical prowess, and sexual virility are all tied up in the image of this flower.

The idea that risk-taking will lead to rewards and future prosperity is also linked to this flower, due to its associations with wealth and good fortune.

Peonies often form a secondary element or ornamental frame for other images.

Chinese dragons, Japanese snakes, and even Samurai soldiers are often depicted as being surrounded by these flowers. Nobility, service and bravery are all communicated through their image.

Facts And Trivia About Peony Flower Symbolism And Meaning

Fact Description
Lifespan Some peony plants can live for up to 100 years.
Size Certain peony varieties can grow as large as 10 inches wide.
Duration in a Vase Peonies can last up to 7 days in a vase.
Peony Buds Peony buds can last up to 3 months when stored in a fridge.
State Flower of Indiana, USA The peony became the official state flower of Indiana in 1957.
Edible Petals Peony petals are edible and have been used in Chinese cuisine.
Wildlife Reaction Rabbits and deer dislike peonies, while ants are attracted to them.
  • Ancient Roots: The peony flower's symbolism dates back to ancient times, with its origins in Chinese culture. It has been cultivated in China for over 2,000 years and holds a special place in Chinese art, literature, and medicine.
  • Cultural Significance: In Chinese culture, the peony is not only a symbol of beauty but also represents nobility, honor, and wealth. It's often associated with female beauty and grace.
  • Emperor's Flower: The peony was highly regarded during the Tang Dynasty in China, and it was often referred to as the "Emperor's Flower." It was associated with the imperial court, and only the emperor could possess certain peony varieties.
  • Good Fortune: Peonies are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity. They are commonly used as ornamental plants in Chinese gardens to attract positive energy.
  • Japanese Symbolism: In Japan, the peony is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. It's also associated with honor and respect. The Japanese celebrate the "Botan" festival to honor this flower.
  • Greek Mythology: The peony's name originates from Greek mythology. It's named after Paeon, a physician to the gods, who was transformed into a flower to save him from a jealous colleague.
  • Variety of Meanings: In Western cultures, peonies symbolize romance, love, and a happy marriage. They are often used in weddings to convey good wishes for a harmonious union.
  • Feng Shui: Peonies have a prominent place in Feng Shui practices. Placing peonies in the southwest corner of the home is believed to attract love and romance.
  • Medicinal Uses: Traditional Chinese medicine uses the roots, seeds, and petals of peonies for their medicinal properties. They are believed to have various health benefits, including pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Transformation: In tattoo art, the peony can symbolize transformation and personal growth. This meaning is derived from the flower's association with change in Greek mythology.
  • National Flower: The peony is the national flower of China and the state flower of Indiana in the United States. Its significance extends beyond cultures and is celebrated internationally.
  • Botanical Variety: There are many peony species, and they come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, and yellow. Each color can carry slightly different symbolic meanings.
  • Bashō's Haiku: Matsuo Bashō, a famous Japanese haiku poet, wrote a well-known haiku about peonies: "In the cicada's cry, no sign can foretell how soon it must die, yet, with its song, it lures man, and we cannot turn away."
  • Artistic Inspiration: Peonies have been a favorite subject for artists throughout history, including painters, poets, and writers. Their beauty and symbolism have inspired numerous works of art.
  • Floral Legends: The peony features in various folklore and legends around the world, often embodying themes of love, beauty, and transformation.


Final Thoughts

Peony flowers are large, ruffled blooms with layers and layers of color and intricacy. They are one of nature’s true beauties, and bring so much visual impact and splendor to any display, bouquet or garden.

This is surely why they have proven so popular with botanists and florists over the centuries, and why they remain such a favorite today.

Their symbolic meaning, as with any flower, varies depending on where they are in the world. Whilst in the east, they tend to be associated with masculine prowess, bravery, honor and vigor, in the west they are associated with youth, beauty, romance, love and happiness.

The sheer number of different varieties of peony indicates how successfully they have been cultivated and enjoyed. So, if you want to boost your mood, prosperity and happiness, a vase of these short-lived but sensational flowers will surely do the trick!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the peony flower symbolize?

The peony flower is often associated with various meanings and symbolisms, including wealth, honor, beauty, and romance. It is considered a symbol of good fortune and prosperity in many cultures.

What does the peony symbolize in Chinese culture?

In Chinese culture, the peony is known as the "king of flowers" and is a symbol of wealth, good fortune, and honor. It is also associated with love and affection.

What does the peony represent in Japanese culture?

In Japan, the peony is called "botan" and is a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. It is also associated with bravery and honor. The peony is a popular motif in Japanese art and is often featured in traditional kimono patterns.

What is the symbolism of the peony in Western cultures?

In Western cultures, the peony is often seen as a symbol of romance and love, especially in the context of marriage and weddings. It is also associated with beauty and grace.

Are there different meanings for different peony colors?

Yes, the color of a peony can influence its meaning. For example, red peonies symbolize love and passion, while white peonies are associated with purity and innocence. Pink peonies often represent love and femininity, and yellow peonies can symbolize happiness and good fortune.

What is the significance of the peony in flower arrangements and bouquets?

Peonies are often used in flower arrangements and bouquets to convey messages of love, honor, and good fortune. They are particularly popular in wedding bouquets due to their association with romance and a happy marriage.

Are there any cultural myths or legends about the peony?

Yes, there are several myths and legends associated with the peony in different cultures. For example, in Chinese folklore, the peony is often linked to stories of gods and goddesses, and it is said to be protected by the Tree-Peony Fairy. These myths contribute to the flower's symbolism.

What are some common occasions to gift peonies?

Peonies make a great gift for various occasions, including weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and celebrations of prosperity. They are also a popular choice for expressing love and admiration.

Can peonies be used in traditional medicine?

Peonies have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for their medicinal properties. They are believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities and are used to treat various ailments, including arthritis.

Do peonies have any negative symbolism? 

In some cultures, peonies can symbolize shame or bashfulness, possibly due to their lush and vibrant blooms. However, this negative symbolism is relatively rare compared to the positive connotations associated with peonies.

Peony Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More