Paeonia suffruticosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Unranked: Angiosperms
Unranked: Eudicots
Unranked: Core eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia

They are native to China, Central Asia, the Mediterranean region and the United Kingdom. Boundaries between species are not clear and estimates of the number of species range from 25 [1] to 40.[2]

Most are herbaceous perennial plants 0.5–1.5 metres tall, but some resemble trees up to 1.5–3 metres tall. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves, and large, often fragrant flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer.


Peony closeup

Peony close-up

The peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Asclepius became jealous of his pupil; Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower.[3]

The family name "Paeoniaceae" was first used by Friedrich K.L. Rudolphi in 1830, following a suggestion by Friedrich Gottlieb Bartling that same year.[1] The family had been given other names a few years earlier.[4] The composition of the family has varied, but it has always consisted of Paeonia and one or more genera that are now placed in Ranunculales.[2] It has been widely believed that Paeonia is closest to Glaucidium, and this idea has been followed in some recent works.[1][5] Molecular phylogenetic studies, however, have demonstrated conclusively that Glaucidium belongs in Ranunculaceae,[6] but that Paeonia belongs in the unrelated order Saxifragales.[7]


Peonies can be classified by both plant growth habit and by flower type. Plant types are Herbaceous (Bush), Tree and Intersectional (Itoh), while flower types are Single (e.g., Athena, Dad, Krinkled White, Scarlet O’Hara, Sea Shell), Japanese (Nippon Beauty, Madame Butterfly), Anemone, Semi-Double (Paula Fay, Coral Charm, Miss America, Buckeye Belle), Double (Ann Cousins, Gardenia, Kansas, Paul M. Wild, Tourangelle) and Bomb-Double (Red Charm, Raspberry Sundae, Mons Jules Elie). Each category becoming more complex in the arrangement of petals. Herbaceous peonies die back in winter, regrowing in spring, while tree peonies lose their leaves in winter, but leave woody stems.

Intersectional peonies are crosses between tree and herbaceous types. They have the leaf form of the tree peony, but die back, have a bush form, but are shorter than herbaceous peonies. [8]

Chemistry and Biological ActivitiesEdit

Over 262 compounds have been obtained so far from the plants of Paeoniaceae. These include monoterpenoid glucosides, flavonoids, tannins, stilbenes, triterpenoids and steroids, paeonols, and phenols. Biological Activities include Antioxidant, Antitumor, Antipathogenic, Immune-System-Modulation Activities,Cardiovascular-System-Protective Activities and Central-Nervous-System Activities.[9]


This varies according to type, For instance Tree peonies are propagated by grafting but Herbaceous and Itoh peonies by root division. However new peonies are raised from seed. [10]


Notes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Josef J. Halda and James W. Waddick. 2004. The genus Paeonia. Timber Press: Oregon, USA.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Michio Tamura. 2007. "Paeoniaceae". pages 265-269. In: Klaus Kubitski (editor). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume IX. Springer-Verlag: Berlin;Heidelberg, Germany.
  3. Flowers in Greek Mythology, VALENTINE floral creations. Accessed 23 June 2008.
  4. James L. Reveal. 2008 onward. "A Checklist of Family and Suprafamilial Names for Extant Vascular Plants." At: Home page of James L. Reveal and C. Rose Broome. (see External links below).
  5. David J. Mabberley. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-Book.Cambridge University Press: UK.
  6. Wei Wang, An-Ming Lu, Yi Ren, Mary E. Endress, and Zhi-Duan Chen. 2009. "Phylogeny and Classification of Ranunculales: Evidence from four molecular loci and morphological data". Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11(2):81-110.
  7. Shuguang Jian, Pamela S. Soltis, Matthew A. Gitzendanner, Michael J. Moore, Ruiqi Li, Tory A. Hendry, Yin-Long Qiu, Amit Dhingra, Charles D. Bell, and Douglas E. Soltis. 2008. "Resolving an Ancient, Rapid Radiation in Saxifragales". Systematic Biology 57(1):38-57. (see External links below).
  8. Heartland Peony Society
  9. He, C.-N., Peng, Y., Zhang, Y.-C., Xu, L.-J., Gu, J. and Xiao, P.-G. (2010), Phytochemical and Biological Studies of Paeoniaceae. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 7: 805–838. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.200800341
  10. How to Propagate Peonies

External links Edit