Paeonia officinalis, the common peony, or garden peony, is a species of flowering plant in the family Paeoniaceae, native to France, Switzerland and Italy. It is an herbaceous perennial growing to 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall and wide, with leaves divided into 9 leaflets, and bowl-shaped deep pink or deep red flowers, 10–13 cm (4–5 in) in diameter, in late spring (May in the Northern Hemisphere).
Paeonia officinalis was first used for medicinal purposes, then grown as an ornamental. Many selections are now used in horticulture, though the typical species is uncommon. Paeonia officinalis is still found wild in Europe.
Many synonyms exist for Paeonia officinalis, i.e. Moutan officinalis, Paeonia anemoniflora, P. barrii, P. baxteri, P. commutata, P. elegans, P. feminea, P. festiva, P. fimbrata, P. foemina, P. fulgens, P. fulgida, P. hirsuta, P. lanceolata, P. lobata, P. mollis, P. nemoralis, P. paradoxa var. fimbrata, P. peregrina var. officinalis, f. officinalis, P. porrigens, P. promiscua, P. pubens, P. rubens, P. sessiliflora, P. splendens, P. subternata, P. versicolor.
The common peony is an allotetraploid with two double sets of chromosomes from different parents (2n+2m=20), so it is a hybrid or nothospecies. One of the parents is most likely Paeonia peregrina. The other parent is one of the group of very closely related species, Paeonia parnassica, P. arietina and P. humilis. Both these parents are tetraploids themselves. P. officinalis has by far the most extensive range and is one of the more abundant species in the Mediterranean region.
The common peony is known from the south of France, through Switzerland to the middle of Italy.
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- Media related to Paeonia officinalis at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Paeonia officinalis at Wikispecies
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