Peony to Fire Pink
February 24, 2001
On this day, The Daily Journal out of Franklin, Indiana, shared an article called, Selection of State Flower Deserves Much Thought by "Bayou" Bill Scifres ("Sy-fers"). The article discusses the desire to change the State Flower of Indiana.
“Well, we are at it again. Again we are embroiled in the state flower hassle, and rank-and-file legislators are telling us they have more important things to do than uproot the Peony as the state flower.
Changing the state flower from the Peony to Fire Pink would be as simple as adopting either Senate Bill 57 or House Bill 2053, or both, to get the matter to the desk of the governor.
But wait a minute. Is it really that simple? That cut-and-dried? Is this what we really want? Is the Fire Pink Hoosierland's best flora representative?
Not native. That's the big rub proponents of the Fire Pink have with the peony. Foreigner. And they are right.
Let's face it. We all are foreigners.
Is it worse for a wildflower to have come from someplace else than it is for men?
The thing that most concerns me is the state flower hassle revolves around the importance of nativeness.
The real criteria should be the P&Ps of the issue, pulchritude, and proximity.
Certainly, our state flower should be a raging beauty, but even more important, it should be accessible, very common, and be seen by many people, including non-Hoosiers who are just visiting.
Fire Pink certainly is beautiful, but not so beautiful as the Cardinal Flower (also native to the state). And neither Fire Pink nor Cardinal Flower are even remotely as common as are several of the other candidates, especially the native spring beauty.
Other Indiana Academy of Science candidates were White Nodding Trillium, Blue Phlox, Bluebell, Butterfly Milkweed, Bloodroot (a spectacularly beautiful flower, but not widely seen), Aster, Wood Poppy, Shooting Star, Wild Columbine, and Yellow Trout Lily.”
Well, this effort was unsuccessful because today, the Peony remains the State Flower of Indiana. And there are many fun facts about this beautiful plant.
In addition to being the Indiana State Flower, Peonies are the flower for China where the peony is called the sho-yu, which translates to “most beautiful.”
When Marco Polo first spied the Peony, he wrote that the large blooms looked like "Roses as big as cabbages."
As a symbol of wealth and a happy marriage, it’s fitting that the Peony is the 12th wedding anniversary flower. It’s also worth noting that a single peony plant could provide a century’s worth of flowers. Impressively, peonies can live to be 100 years old.
If you receive a bouquet of Peonies, make sure to keep the vase filled with fresh water. Peonies are thirsty cut flowers.
As for Peony plants, make sure to plant them high and have plenty of patience - Peonies can be slow to get growing.
If you wondered why grandma had you plant your banana peels under the Peony bushes, it’s because Peonies love potassium. Potassium helps Peonies stay healthy and develop stronger stems.
And if you want to help your Peony store up more energy for the following year, you can cut off the seed pods after your peony is finished flowering.
Now, medicinally, Peonies were thought to help with pain, and they were used to treat everything from headaches to childbirth. And the childbirth connection to the Peony has roots in Greek mythology. The story goes like this:
Asclepius was the god of healing and medicine, and he had a student named Paeon who discovered a root that could alleviate labor pain. This discovery brought Paeon notoriety, and Asclepius could not hide his jealousy, and he grew vengeful. Sensing trouble, Zeus stepped in and turned Paeon into a flower - the peony - and thereby saved his life. And to this day, Paeon, through the peony, helps ease the pain of childbirth.