Botany Photo of the Day
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Paeonia delavayi

Paeonia delavayi

When first emerging, the leaves of Père Delavay's tree peony have an intriguing shape and texture; this continues as the leaves unfold.

Taxonomic opinions vary widely on Paeonia delavayi and related taxa – see Hong DY, Pan Ky and Yu H. 1998. Taxonomy of the Paeonia delavayi complex (Paeoniaceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 85(4): 554-564. To see the variability in flower colour and properties, see this figure from the Flora of China's treatment for Paeonia delavayi (or you can simply do a image search on Google for Paeonia delavayi).

Natural history / photography resource links: Knowing Nature: Dave and Jocie's Natural History Blog includes observations about British Columbia nature, while Botanical Ramblings is a series of photographs of BC wildflowers. Both sites are by Dave Ingram (also worth checking out Dave's site to see his dragonfly and damselfly resource pages).

7 Comments

Exquisite (!) photo, Daniel. The b&w tone allows the focus to be on the forms and texture of that amazing sprouting. I've always been awed by the beauty of many plants when they are first emerging from the ground in spring ... or the way buds look just before and just as they are opening. Peonies are particularly sensual at this stage.

The photo reminds me of Karl Blossfeldt's gorgeous botanical photos. I wrote something last month about finding artistic and creative inspiration in nature, including a bit about Blossfeldt. Here.

Maureen, funny you should mention Blossfeldt. Quentin Cronk, the director of the garden here, loaned me his book on Blossfeldt after I had posted the image that can be seen by clicking on the “leaves unfold” link.

Paeonia delavayi - Z6 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Paeonia delavayi - Z5-8 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk
Paeonia delavayi - Z5 - Heronswood Nursery Catalogue, 2005, Hinkley

Since they continue to be cited here, I'd just like to point out that RHS INDEX, AHS A-Z and 'Heronswood' all happen to be rather poor references for plant hardiness. The INDEX has hundreds of factual mistakes in all areas, AHS A-Z is often too conservative with hardiness designations and 'Heronswood' has the opposite problem--although perhaps not doing so in this instance often rating plants a zone hardier than they are.

And I hope they continue to be cited here. The fact that there is disagreement among the sources should be enough for any reasonable person to comprehend that more investigation is required, but still at-a-glance see if this is a plant that is suitable, is not suitable, or is close to suitable for their area (and requires more research).

I'd be happy to put a permanent link to a detailed summary of hardiness zones and the difficulties with various sources and regional applications if you were to initiate the writing and discussion somewhere on the forums.

What a marvelous otherworldly quality this image has!

Zones are funny. I've found if I study the two proceeding winter and they are a warming trend I can plant zone 5. It will take a couple of years to settle in. I live in Iowa on the north edge of zone 5 and the south edge of zone 4. Have been gardening for 60+ years.

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