Paeonia lactiflora / CHI SHAO YAO / Red Peony Root

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Botanical Name – Paeonia lactiflora

Chinese Name – CHI SHAO YAO

English Name – Red Peony Root

Paeonia lactiflora, commonly called Red Peony, is a flowering plant in the Ranunculaceae family. Also known as Radix Paeoniae Rubra in Latin, in Traditional Chinese Medicine it refers to the dried root of Paeonia lactiflora Pall. or Paeonia veitchii Lynch. This herb is produced in most parts of China. Usually the medicinal roots are harvested in spring and autumn.

Difference between BAI SHAO and CHI SHAO

Bai Shao (White Peony Root) comes from one plant, Paeonia lactiflora, whereas official Chi Shao can come from two plants, P. lactiflora and P. veitchii.  The later only produces Chi Shao and is only found in the wild.  The former can produce either bai shao or chi shao and can be either cultivated or wild-crafted.  If it is cultivated and subjected to pao zhi (boiling and scraping off the root bark), it is bai shao.  If it is wild-crafted and used crude, it is chi shao.

In China, Bai Shao and Chi Shao are regarded as two separate medicinals.  Both use paeoniflorin content for quality control testing, but the standard minimum content of chi shao is higher than that of bai shao.

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