There’s something about the voluptuous but fragile beauty of peonies that makes them truly evocative and sensual, as a perfume ingredient. In China and Japan, it’s a national emblem and known as ‘the king of the flowers’. Closer to home, in mythology, mischievous nymphs were believed to hide in the petals of peony, giving it the meaning of bashfulness, shyness or shame, in the language of flowers.
Plants take from five to seven years to flower abundantly, with up to 60 flowers on a single plant – but that makes for a pricy ingredient. Through history, peony was known for its medicinal powers, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s still used to treat night sweats, injuries and stomach pains.
In fragrance, though, peony is a fresh, soft floral note: uplifting, calming, working brilliantly alongside other floral notes, especially the equally delicately-petalled rose.
Smell peony in: