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MY HERBARIUM Peony, the fairest healer of them all

It is all around us, it has been with us since our childhood, it is in our products and on our plates. Chrystel Lacz, agricultural scientist, tells us about plants in her own words. And exceptional natural active ingredients.

Just talk about it and you'll have its scent in your head... that powerful floral note, at once fresh and slightly woody, recognisable among a thousand others. When I was a little girl, peonies were the base of my favourite perfume, the one that I used to steal from my mother's cupboard to "play grownup". Since then, every time I come across its scent I have images of myself with lipstick up to my cheekbones and pumps that were three times my size! The peony is a star among flowers, and rightly so! It has survived through the ages and inspired myths and works of art, but it is for its soothing powers that it is revered and protected at Klorane. Lifting the veil on the fairest?

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 To find Paeonia lactiflora or the Chinese Peony in its natural habitat, you will have to explore from the foothills of the Himalayas to the far reaches of Siberia. An icon of the woods and meadows of Central Asia, it has inspired and fascinated for over 2,000 years. We see it in Greek mythology, where it is the fruit of a goddess' jealousy towards of a nymph who was always being courted; in the legends surrounding the only empress in Chinese history, who banished it from her sight for refusing to bloom on command; and even in the paintings of Manet and the poems of Apollinaire. Its delicate silhouette and capricious flowering make it a real sight to behold, and its exquisiteness is associated with beauty and femininity.

But enough with the admiration! The peony is also an Olympic-class medicinal champion: its roots contain recognised and documented properties for calming inflammation and soothing irritation. We have therefore used it to create an entire range of hair and face care products for dry and sensitive skin. Beautiful and powerful, it's no wonder the peony is ubiquitous, from traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia and florist shops to some of the most sought-after fragrances.

Beauty worth protecting

A victim of its own success, the wild peony is listed as an endangered species. It was unthinkable for Klorane to contribute to its disappearance; we therefore opted for sustainably farmed peonies, without irrigation or pesticides. To further our commitment, the Klorane Botanical Foundation has joined forces with the Botanical Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in a scientific programme using plant biotechnology and in vitro cultivation to develop a method to multiply wild peonies and reintroduce them into the wild.

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