Some time back, Paeon, the physician to the Greek gods, used the root of a flower to treat a wound given to Pluto by Hercules. It must have done the trick, for the flower has been known by his name ever since - Paeonia.
Scratch a civilisation and you'll find a peony in there somewhere. They pop up on Chinese porcelain, Japanese scrolls and in medieval religious paintings - in 7th-century China, peony fever led...
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