Introduction of Bai Shao:White Peony Root or Radix Paeoniae Alba.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb White Peony Root, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Paeonia lactiflora Pall., ②.Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa (Bunge) Stern., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb White Peony Root, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Radix Paeoniae Alba(White Peony Root).

Radix Paeoniae Alba:herb photo Pin Yin Name: Bái Sháo.
 English Name: White Peony Root.
 Latin Name: Radix Paeoniae Alba.
 Property and flavor: cool in nature, tastes bitter, sour.

 Brief introduction: The Herb Radix Paeoniae Alba is the peeled and dried root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall., used (1).to nourish the blood and regulate menstruation for treating menstrual disorders, (2).to pacify the liver and alleviate pain for relieving headache, hypochondriac pain, and spastic pain of the limbs, and (3).to stop excessive sweating. The herb is commonly known as Radix Paeoniae Alba, White Peony Root, Bái Sháo.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb White Peony Root (Bai Shao) as the root of the plant species (1).Paeonia lactiflora Pall(cultivated species)., other famous herbal classics defined the herb White Peony Root (Bai Shao) as the root of the plant species (1). Paeonia lactiflora Pall (cultivated species)., or (2). Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa (Bunge) Stern. They are plants of the Paeonia L. genus, the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup, ranunculus family) of the Ranales order. These 2 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Paeonia lactiflora Pall.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:flowering plant Botanical description: The plant, Paeonia lactiflora Pall is a plant of the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup, ranunculus family) and Paeonia genus, it is also known as Paeonia albiflora Pall., commonly known as Paeonia lactiflora, White Peony, Sháo Yào, Shao Yao.

 A perennial flowering herb, the plant grows up to 40–70 cm high, glabrous. Its taproot (main root) is hypertrophic, fusiform (spindle-shaped), or cylindrical, black brown. The stem is upright, the upper part is branched, and several sheathed membranous scales grow on the base. Leaves are alternate; the petioles are up to 9 cm long, cauline leaves on the stem apical end have shorter petioles; cauline leaves on the lower part of stems are biternate compound leaves, leaves on the upper stem are trifoliolate leaves; lobules (leaflets) are narrowly ovate, elliptic or lanceolate, 7.5–12 cm long, 2~4 cm wide, the apex is acuminate, the base is cuneate or deflective, the edge has white cartilaginous fine teeth, both surfaces are glabrous, sparse pubescence grows along the leaf veins on the under surface, more or less coriaceous.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:flowers Flowers are hermaphroditic, several flowers grow on the stem top or in the leaf axils, 7~12 cm in diameter; 4-5 flower bracts, lanceolate, differ in size; 4 sepals (calyx lobe), broad-ovate or orbicular (nearly rounded), 1~1.5 cm long, 1~1.7 cm wide, green, persistent; 9–13 flower petals, obovate, 3.5~6 cm long, 1.5~4.5 cm wide, white, sometimes base has modena (dark purple or deep purple) patches or pink, cultivated species has variously colored flower petals and has polyphyll; many stamens, filaments are 7~12 mm long, anthers are yellow; the floral disc (flower disc) is shallow cyathiform (cuplike), wrap the base of carpels, apical lobes are blunt; 2~5 carpels, separate, glabrous.

 The follicles are oval (egg-shaped) or ovoid, 2.5–3 cm long, and 1.2–1.5 cm in diameter, and the apex has a rostrum (beak). Its flowering period is from May to June, and the fruiting period is from June to August. The following part gives a more detailed introduction to its plant parts:

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:drawing of plant parts Stems: stems of Paeonia lactiflora grow in clusters from roots, and grow up to about 50–110 cm high, herbaceous, the stem base is cylindrical, the upper end has many edges and corners, some are tortuose, some are straight, and they are mostly violet red in the sunny part.

 Leaves: the leaves on the lower part are biternate pinnate compound leaves, the end of the leaf is composed of 3 lobules as a leaf bunch, and both sides also have one leaf bunch, ambilateral leaf bunch is usually composed of 4 lobules, the compound leaves on the middle part, the terminal 3 lobules are not varied, the number of ambilateral lobules starts to decrease, gradually decreasing from the original 4 lobules to 3 lobules, 2 lobules or 1 lobule, even are absent, when lobules are absent, the terminal end is only composed of 3 lobules, this time it is named as tripinnate compound leaf. The leaves on the upper part are simple leaves. Leaves are 20–24 cm long, lobules are in different shapes, elliptic, narrowly ovate, lanceolate, etc., the tip of leaves is long and pointed, edges are slightly undulated, leaf margin has dense white cartilaginous fine teeth, the upper surface of leaves is yellowish green, green or deep green, and the undersurface of leaves is mostly pink green, piliferous or glabrous. The leaves of Paeonia lactiflora have ornamental value, and could be planted as an ornamental foliage plant.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:buds Buds: buds grow on the root neck, are succulent, and pass the winter under the ground. With the temperature rising in early spring, the buds grow out of the earth. When they are just growing out, buds are hot pink (water red or cerise) to light violet red, and some are yellow. When buds grow out of the ground, their colors deepen and generally turn claret (dark purplish-red), and they are protected by scales outside. The buds of Paeonia lactiflora are mixed buds, which not only develop into flowers but also develop into nutritorium (stems and leaves). Before germination, the bud length is 2.5–4 cm. The color and shape of buds after they grow out from the ground will also be different due to different varieties, ranging from claret to yellowish brown.

 Bud shapes can be divided into three types: short circular type, bamboo shoot type, and pen tip type. The short circular type has short buds and blunt ends; the bamboo shoot type has a long bud, the end is sharp-pointed, and it is in the shape of a bamboo shoot; the pen tip type has a long bud and the end tip is tapering (acuminate), which is like the pen tip of a writing brush. Peony germination is one of the most spectacular scenes, because it embodies the germination and vitality of life, so it has a high appreciation value.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:drawing of plant parts Flower bud: The bud of a peony is a mixed bud (mixed bud:  a bud yielding both leaves and flowers) and belongs to the type of underground bud. After germination, the mixed bud grows out of the ground, stems and leaves grow out, then petals and flowers. The mixed bud is a complex of multiple primordia, and is composed of the apical vegetative point (growth point), bud scale, axillary bud primordium in the axil of bud scales, bract primordium, sepal primordium, petal primordium, stamen primordium, and pistil primordium. The bud is named as maternal bud, and the bud scale and axillary bud primordium in the axil of the phyllopodium are the initial body (protobody) of daughter buds. The axillary bud primordium in phyllopodium does not produce bud scales, which are naked buds; however, the axillary bud primordium in the axils of scales has bud scales, forming scaly buds.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:seedlings In spring, the scaly buds germinate, and the daughter naked buds stretch out of the ground with the elongation of the internode of the maternal mixed buds, forming flowering branches or branches on the trunk stem; The daughter scaly buds do not stretch out of the ground. After the overground part withers in autumn, the daughter scaly bud located at the top of the root neck develops into an apical bud. In fact, there is only one apical bud of Paeonia lactiflora, which is the apical bud of the seedling after seed germination. The next year, this daughter scaly bud germinated and grew out, branches stretching out, growing leaves, and then blooming. Therefore, the life cycle of naked buds is 2 years, while the life cycle of scaly buds is 3 years.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:flowering plant The axillary buds of the underground scaly buds of Paeonia lactiflora appear in about August, and the apical vegetative point (growth point) gradually produces bud scale primordium from the outside to the inside. Until May of the next year, four vegetative points of the bud scale peridium are formed, and bud scale differentiation is finished in late June. Then, the apical vegetative point begins to produce phyllopodium (leaf primordium). The leaf primordium has a plurality of dactyline (fingerlike) protrusions, whereas the number of bud scale primordium is only 1 to 3. The differentiation of leaf primordia starts in early August and ends in early September.

 Flower buds have several kinds of shapes, round peach, flat round peach, oblate peach, pointed round peach, long round peach, pointed peach, obliquely pointed peach, long pointed peach, and flat peach. 5 sepals in the outer whorl, leafy-lanceolate, green, turn smaller in order from bottom to top; 3 sepals in the inner whorl (not including variants), green or yellowish-green, sometimes have yellowish-white stripes or violet-red stripes, obovate, broadly ovate, round, elliptic or in irregular shapes.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:drawing of plant and flower The flowers of the peony herb are generally blooming at the top of the stem, or adapical leaf axils, some rare species have 2 or 3 flowers growing in a cluster. The flower of proto species (protospecies) is white, 8–11 cm in diameter, 5–13 flower petals, obovate, many stamens, filaments are yellow, the floral disc (flower disc) is shallow cyathiform (cuplike), and wraps the base of the carpel, the tip is blunt, 3–5 carpels, glabrous or piliferous, tip end has a rostrum (beak); The garden-variety of peony is rich in flower colors, has white, pink, red, purple, yellow, green, black and secondary colors, flowers are 10–30 cm in diameter, flower petals are up to over 100 petals, some species even have 880 flower petals, and flower types are multivariant. Its flowering period is from May to June, and the fruiting period is mainly in August.

 Follicles, 2~8, free (separated), composed of a single carpel, fusiform (spindle-shaped), elliptic, oval (egg-shaped), doliform (bottle-shaped), smooth, or has fine fuzz, has small protruding tips. The ovary has one loculus, and contains 5–7 seeds. The follicles have medicinal value.

 Peony seeds are black or dark brown (black brown). Each has 1–5 loculi. Seeds are round, oblong, or conoid.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.:flowering plants The root of Paeonia lactiflora is composed of three parts: the root crown (root neck), the root tuber (tuberous root), and the fibrous root. The root neck is the uppermost part of the root, its color is darker, and there are buds inserted on it; the root tuber grows below the root neck, and is succulent, stout (thick and strong), fusiform (spindle-shaped) or long cylindrical, 0.6~3.5 cm in diameter, the out surface is fawn (light yellowish brown) or grayish purple, inside is white, rich in nutrients, tuberous roots generally do not grow buds directly, but after it is broken then it can grow out smaller new buds, so the roots over 5 cm which are harvested in autumn can also reproduce; The fibrous roots mainly grow out from the root tuber and are the main plant organ that absorb water and nutrients, and can gradually evolve to tuberous roots. The roots of peonies are different in appearance and shape, and they can generally be classified into three types: thick roots, slope roots, and uniform roots. Thick root type, the roots are sparse, thick, big, and grow straight; slope root type, the root stretches on all sides and is uneven in diameter; uniform root type, the root stripes are uniform in density, and uniform in diameter. The root can be used as a herbal medicine.

 drawing of plant flower and root Ecological Environment: The plant, Paeonia lactiflora Pall grows in the grass on hillsides and mountain slopes, and in forests. The plant is mainly distributed in the northern, and northwest areas, it is cultivated in cities and counties, villages, and small towns, in China. In the north, it is distributed in meadows on hillsides and in forests, in areas at altitudes of 480~700 meters above sea level, in other areas it grows in meadows on hillsides or mountain slopes at altitudes of 1,000~2,300 meters above sea level. In cities and parks, the peony is also planted, with a variety of petals.

 White Peony Root:slice of cultivated herb Collection: The herb is the root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall. which is chiefly produced in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and all white peonies are cultivated. The root is dug out in the summer or autumn and washed clean. After removal of the lateral roots and skin, it is boiled for a short while and then dried in the sun, sliced, and used unprepared, stir-baked, or stir-baked with wine.

 When the whole root is harvested, it is named Chi Shao Yao (red peony root), once the bark skin is removed during preparation and boiled and then dried in the sun, it is named Bai Shao Yao (white peony root). It is also named Chinese Peony Root.

 White Peony Root:cultivated root Growth characteristics: The plant, Paeonia lactiflora Pall prefers a warm and moist climate, is tolerant to cold, and drought, and avoids waterlogging. It is appropriate to choose fields with sufficient sunlight, deep soil layers, good drainage, fertile, loose, loam, or sandy loam rich in humus for cultivation. Should not choose saline and alkaline land, waterlogging lowland for cultivation. Should avoid continuous cropping, it can rotate with Carthamus tinctorius, Chrysanthemum, and legumes.

 White Peony Root:wild rootWhite Peony Root:slices of wild root Characters of herbs: The herb is cylindrical, the diameter is well-proportioned, mostly straight, slightly curved, 5–20 cm long, or 10–40 cm long, and 0.6–3 cm in diameter, or 1-2.5 cm in diameter. The surface of Bó Bái Sháo is gypseus or off-white, and smooth; the surface of Háng Bái Sháo is brown or hazel (pale brown), coarse and rough, has thick and slightly twisted vertical wrinkles and laterally protruding lenticels, fine root marks; The outer root bark is easy to fall off. The texture of the herb is hard, firm, and heavy, making it uneasy to break, the fracture surface is ash gray (grayish-white) or slightly brownish, flat, and corneous, the cortex is narrow, dark; and the radial patterns of the xylem (wood part) are distinct, sometimes have fissuring. The herb smells slightly fragrant, and it tastes slightly bitter and sour. The herb of a better grade has thick and long stripes, the bark color is bright and clean, the texture is firm and solid, the fracture surface is gypseus (gypseous), rich in mealiness,and it has no white core or cleft.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.central inhibition effects, obvious analgesic action; ②.Radix Paeoniae Alba and its component paeoniflorin show spasmolysis effects; ③.weaker anti-inflammatory effect; ④.antiulcer effect; ⑤.affect the body's immune function; ⑥.promote the phagocytosis of macrophage; ⑦.effects on the cardiovascular system and anti-hypoxia; ⑧.antibacterial activity antibacterial effect of Radix Paeoniae Alba is stronger; ⑨.wide antimicrobial spectrum; ⑩.protecting liver and detoxification; ⑾.antimutagenesis and anti-tumor effect, etc.

 Medicinal efficacy: Nourishing blood for regulating menstruation, nourishing blood and harmonizing nutrients, nourishing blood and softening liver, warming middle energizer to relieve pain, retaining yin and hidroschesis (collecting Yin and relieve perspiration), retaining Yin and calm the liver (collecting Yin and calm the liver), softening liver and relieve pain, calm the liver-yang. It is indicated for blood deficiency and sallow complexion (blood deficiency, looks yellowing), Yin deficiency and fever, spontaneous perspiration (spontaneous sweating), night sweat (perspire during sleep), menoxenia (irregular menstruation), dysmenorrhea (abdominal pain after menstruation), metrorrhagia and metrostaxis (uterine bleeding), morbid leukorrhea, hypochondriac pain, abdominal pain, pain in chest abdomen and lateral thorax, diarrhea dysentery and abdominal pain, pain in four limbs, cephalea (headache), dizziness, etc.

 Administration of Radix Paeoniae Alba (Bái Sháo): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Radix Paeoniae Alba (Bái Sháo)
TCM Books: ①.Internally: 6~15 grams; ②.Internally:water decoction, 2~4 qian (about 6~12 grams), or prepare to pill, powder; ③.Internally:water decoction, 5~12 grams;or prepared to pill, powder. Big dosage could be up to 15~30 grams.
 Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions:the herb Radix Paeoniae Alba should not be combined with Dendrobe, Niter, Turtle Shell, Herba Cirsii, Black False Hellebore. The herb should be avoid using in conditions exanthem.

(2).Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa (Bunge) Stern.

 Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa Bunge Stern.:flowering plant Botanical description: The plant, Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa (Bunge) Stern is a plant of the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup, ranunculus family) and Paeonia genus. It is also known as Paeonia albiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa Bunge., Paeonia yui Fang., commonly known as Máo Guǒ Sháo Yào (means Piliferous Fruit Peony). A perennial plant. The roots are thick, and the branches are dark brown. Stems grow up to about 40–70 cm high, and are glabrous. The lower cauline leaves are bipinnately compound leaves or tripinnately compound leaves, the upper cauline leaves are tripinnately compound leaves; lobules (leaflets) are narrowly ovate, elliptic, or lanceolate, the apex is acuminate, the base is cuneate or oblique, the margin has white cartilaginous fine teeth, both surfaces are glabrous, sparsely pubescent along leaf veins on the undersurface.

 Flowers a few, grow on stems and leaf axils, sometimes only the top flower is in bloom, and near the apical buds there are under-developed flower buds, diameter is 8~11.5 cm; 4~5 sepals, lanceolate, in different sizes; 4 sepals, broadly ovate or suborbicular, 1~1.5 cm long, 1~1.7 cm wide; 9~13 petals, obovate, 3.5~6 cm long, 1.5~4.5 cm wide, white, sometimes dark purple at the base; Filaments are 0.7~1.2 cm long, yellow; floral disc (flower disc) is shallow cyathiform (cuplike), wrap the base of the carpel, apical lobe is blunt; 2~5 carpels, glabrous. The alae (winged stem) is 2.5~3 cm long, and 1.2~1.5 cm in diameter, and has a rostrum (beak) at the top. Its flowering period is from May to June, and the fruiting period is in August.

 The main difference between this species and Paeonia lactiflora Pall is: that the carpels and young fruits are densely pilose, and the mature legumes (pods) are sparsely pilose.

 Ecological Environment: The plant, Paeonia lactiflora Pall.var.trichocarpa (Bunge) Stern grows in mountain bushes. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in the north, and southern Gansu, Tianshan, and the Altai Mountains of western China. In the northeast, it grows in meadows on hillsides and mountain slopes, forests, in areas at altitudes of 480–700 meters above sea level, and in other areas, it grows in meadows on hillsides and mountain slopes, in areas at altitudes of 1,000–2,300 meters above sea level. The plant is also distributed in northern Asia and the Siberian region.
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