Species PeoniesIt is difficult to define the word ‘species’ in a way that applies to all natural occurring organisms and this difficulty is known as the ‘Species Problem’. There are over two dozen definitions in use amongst biologists and it is not the puropose of this site to enter a discussion about the various shadings applied to a definition of the word. Instead we shall simply refer to the genus Paeonia and the natural (as opposed to man-made) occurrence of plants within the genus i.e. those which can be described by the generic name Paeonia.
Such plants are classified by taxonomists into different Sections and Subsections, and different taxonomists classify them differently. Recent work has started to rely on DNA analysis and has produced some surprising indications that plants previously regarded as separate are, in fact, naturally occurring hybrids between other species.This section of the website briefly discusses some plants available in Britain. Hover over the image to see a brief description.A full and detailed discussion of the species can be found in many books (see the ‘Publications’ page).
P.mlokosewitschiiDiscoverd by a Polish botanist of the same name in 1897, itis native to the Caucasus. It is a vigorous plant forming a 3ft clump and the flowers are a soft clear pale yellow. Any pink markings are probably an indication of hybridity. The seed heads, when ripe and open are quite attractive, with a mixture of bright pink and purple seeds. The former are unfertilised.
P officinalis var anemonefloraThis is a variety of P.officinalis that has some of its stamens flattened into stamenoids. It is fully hardy in Britain and is a most attractive garden plant.
P.maireiThis peony grows in the mountains of North Yunnan and in the West Sichuan provinces of China. In cultivation it forms a strongly growing clump with attractively deep veined leaves and rich pink flowers in early Spring.
Peony wittmanniana Native to the southern Transcaucasian region, this plant seeems to be closely related to Peony mlokosewitschii. The flowers are white to pale yellow with red filaments and yellow anthers. It is a strongly growing plant and can grow to 1.5 metres in height and breadth.
Peony emodiThis peony takes its name from the Latin ‘emodi montes’, the name for the Himalayas where it grows in the Western part. A tall plant, it is the parent of the much admired hybrid ‘White Innocence’ which grows to 1.5 metres. It grows well in British gardens and established clumps will easily carry 15+ blooms.
Peony obovata sspWilmottiaeThhis wonderful plant is difficult to grow well in the UK. The specimen shown gives its owner worries each year if parts of it die back. It demands perfect drainage and possibly other, less easily quantifiable conditions. It grows in the western parts of china and in one respected taxonomy- Hong D Y, Pan K Y & Rao G Y, 2001: “Cytogeography and taxonomy of the Paeonia obovata polyploid complex” , is differentaited from obovata ssp obovata by the presence of hairs on its leaf undersides
Peony tenuifoliaKnown as the ‘Fern Leaf Peony’, this charming native of the Caucasus Mountains, the Crimea and parts of Romania, has very narrow, almost thread-like divided leaves. A relatively low grower from about 30cms to 60cms, its red flowers are usually found as single forms, but full doubles also exist, as do pink forms.