July 23, 2019

Form and Function

Herbaceous peony

Janine Pineo Photo - Herbaceous peony

Herbaceous peonies are one of the most beloved flowers, revered for their beauty, scent and longevity. There are four different forms of peony flowers: the single, semi-double, double and Japanese or anemone. Most of the herbaceous peony cultivars are from Paeonia lactiflora, blooming in late spring and early summer. Pictured above is a semi-double, unknown variety. It has two to three whorls of petals around a large, central “boss” of stamens. A single form has just a single whorl of petals around the stamens.

Peony Fact of the Day: Peonies were first used as medicine. In “100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names,” it states that by the time of Pliny (who died during Vesuvius’ eruption in A.D. 79), the peony was said to cure 20 various illnesses.