‘rockii’ Tree Peony Hybrids

Until fairly recently Peony Rockii was a plant of almost mythical status, almost impossible to obtain (there being so few specimens in the West) and of legendary beauty.

When China began to open itself to the non-Communist world, nurseries there started to export their plants and amongst them were specimens of this desirable Tree Peony, However they were being sold as named hybrids.

It seems that even the Western specimens grown from seed distributed by Joseph Rock himself might not be the true species and there is no evidence that Rock ever saw true P. rockii.

A very detailed article on the subject can be found in Will McLewin’s book ‘Peony rockii and Gansu Mudan’ (pub Wellesley-Cambridge Press, 2006).

Very many of the plants offered as P.rockii, particularly by non-specialist nurseries, are, in fact ‘Gansu Mudan’, which just means Tree Peony from Gansu Province. They are hybrids, ranging in appearance friom the classic white with a dark blotch, through shades of pink red and dark red. Flower form varies from single to full double.

They are all desirable plants, and in the opinion of one commercial grower in the UK,many of the single white ones are fully equal in beauty to the classic species as well as being more vigorous with longer lasting flowers.

Specialist nurseries are now tending to offer these plants as Gansu Mudan, or sometimes as rockii hybrids, though the latter name is incorrect since there are other species involved in the hybrid cross. The same comment can be made of so-called ‘lutea’ hybrids, which contain more than just P.lutea in their parentage.

Click on any of the buttons opposite to see an image of the named Gansu Mudan.

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