The herb market in Bozhou, Anhui is the largest medicinal herb trade market in China. The geography and diverse climate of Anhui is particularly well-suited for growing medicinal herbs.
Since ancient times, Bozhou has been seen as the “Capital of Traditional Herbs” and has been the cradle of Chinese medicinal culture.
In the Pharmacopoeia of People’s Republic of China (PPRC) many high quality herbs include the word Bo 亳 (derived from Bozhou 亳州) as part of their name. For example Bo Shao 亳芍( Bozhou White Peony), Bo Ju 亳菊 (Bozhou Chrysanthemum), Bo Sang Pi 亳桑皮 (Bozhou Mulberry Bark), and Bo Hua Fen 亳花粉 (Bozhou Trichosanthes Root). Because of their outstanding quality, both Bo Shao (Bozhou White Peony) and Bo Ju (Bozhou Chrysanthemum) have been included as part of Anhui’s four major herbal medicinal products (the other two are Moutan (Mu Dan Pi 牡丹皮) and Poria (Fu Ling 茯苓). Actually 70% of the White Peony produced in China is produced in the Bozhou region.
Baishao 白芍: Bozhou’s White Peony
The White Peony that is cultivated in Bozhou is different from the other peonies you see growing all around China. They have fewer paddles and their main purpose is to be used as medicine. The name might say White Peony, but in fact, this specific kind of peony flower can be pink, white or a mix of white pink.
Around May the peony flowers start blooming all around Bozhou. It is one of my favorite times of the year. While I enjoy the beauty of the flower itself, farmers can’t wait for the flowers to wither. The peony is usually harvested in late summer and autumn. After the roots are dug up they are washed and the head and tail ends of the roots, along with the fine rootlets, are removed. The roots are then boiled to remove the peel and sometimes boiled once more before being sun dried. After that, they are ready to used as the medicinal herb.
In traditional Chinese medicine it is said that the White Peony is slightly cool, bitter and sour, and that it enters the channels of the liver and spleen. Its functions include calming the liver, relieving pain, nourishing the blood, regulating the menses, astringing Yin and checking perspiration. It is also used for headaches and dizziness, pain in the abdomen, spasms and pain in the arms and legs, blood deficiency, menstrual irregularities, spontaneous sweating, and night sweats.
Peony Festival in Bozhou 芍花节
Every year when the peony flowers are in full bloom, Bozhou celebrates this occasion with a big festival. It includes a huge stage placed in the middle of beautiful peony fields, lots of singing and dancing. Personally, I only go to admire the peony flowers, and stay away from the crowded stage.
The good thing with the amount of peony fields all over Bozhou is that you can always find an entire field only for yourself, where you can admire this marvellous creation of nature.
Everyone who knows me knows I love flowers. They are just the most precious thing this earth has to offer. During spring time Bozhou has a great variety of flowers to offer, but the peony flower is still my all-time favourite.
Following are a few photos I have taken over the years of Bozhou’s White Peony fields…
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