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Paeonia peregrina

Paeonia peregrina

A special thank you to those who commented on yesterday's photograph. I appreciate the gist of what you've expressed, and I'll not forget or ignore it. I'm keeping my word re: today's photograph though, as I could use a bit of colour myself. We're likely to have the coldest temperature we've had in a long while in Vancouver in the next couple days, so it's particularly delicious (and escapist) to revisit summertime now. Today's photograph was taken half a revolution ago.

Paeonia peregrina seems to have a few English common names. Balkan peony is a reference to its distributional range in southeastern Europe and Turkey. Dr. Allan Armitage calls it “poison peony” in his set of horticultural stock images, but that name doesn't appear elsewhere online. Personally, I'd opt to use a translation of the epithet peregrina to create the common name, which doesn't seem to have been done in English. This seems to have been the practice in French, though: pivoine étrangère, or strange peony. Such a common name would demand an explanation of why this particular species was considered strange or foreign to botanists of the time. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer today, but I'll check some reference works tomorrow to see if I can figure it out.

Photographs of the foliage and fully open flowers are available from both the Pacific Bulb Society and Floral Images.

Lastly, a head's up. I've decided to take a “vacation” from BPotD between December 16 and January 14. Although there will still be a daily photograph, two things will be different: 1) the photographs will be a series of abstracts and 2) I am going to post without scientific comment (the vacation part). Many of the abstracts have literal counterparts previously featured on BPotD, so I will reference those if available. If you're not a fan of abstracts, I hope you'll be able to be patient until mid-January.


I recently downloaded the widget from U.B.C. and am always happily surprised by everything I see. I am Vancouver-born living in Spain and love all kinds of flora and photography. How can I send you photos and what type are you interested in ? Keep the beauty coming. Thank you, Natalie

I've been looking at this site daily for about a year, now, and I really love it. I do sometimes wish the common name of that day's plant were easier to find, though. Thanks

I agree with Laura Loewen, I love this site, and for the common names, ok too, but then also in french (and maybe spanish, german, italian, portuges…) ;-)

In antiquity, peregrinus meant "strange" mostly in the literal sense: a foreigner. Also probably the best translation for étrangère, but I defer to Canadians on this point. Since late antiquity, however, the word meant much more specifically a pilgrim. Difficult to know exactly what Miller had in mind without reading his description.

See also the entry in Carsten Burkhardt's peony database.

I second Max on the Latin, and I think Pilgrim Peony is a handy name.

As in peregrine falcon of course it means migratory, and is of course the origin of the word pilgrim, and also means foreign strange imported non local accidental wandering travelling etc.
Stranger rather than strange.

Thanks for the facinating info. I have several of these plants in my Seattle garden. I'm going to add "Pilgrim Peony" to the plant label and give credit to you all to anyone that asks.

Etranger may mean foreign in fr but peregrinus in Latin means both foreign but mainly wanderer traveller stranger even pilgrim.
BTW of course pilgrim from pelerin from peregrinus. So pilgrim first meant foreigner then morphed to traveller or wanderer.
Peregrinus was mainly used for wandering minstrels or students or actors who moved from town to town. The stress is on their wandering moving from place to place not necessarily their strangeness or foreignness.
So this plant may not have been strange or foreign but is known to appear here and there unexpectedly.
However the dictionaries seem to agree with you.
The solution I think to this conundrum is that I assumed that the botanists of old knew spoke read wrote Latin but not the classical Latin of Caesar or Cicero or Catullus but of the churchmen and of scientists like Newton Copernicus and Galileo and philosophers like Descartes who wrote their principal works in Latin.
The Latin dictionaries would cover Classical Latin only not the living Latin of the medium aevum and of the Church and not the Latin of the Renaissance and even of the Baroque.
So when botany emerged as a systematised science under Linnaeus
it was strictly Latin and not Ciceronian Latin but Linnean Latin.
So peregrinus from 1000 BC to 1000 AD indeed meant foreign or strange or unknown but from 1000 to 2000 meant wanderer or traveller. For those that used Latin as a living language not a dead fossil.
You would need a specialised Latin dictionary of the Middle Ages or of the modern period to get the meaning of peregrinus which the botanists would have used. Or an etymological dictionary of la fr en.
Volucris peregrinus means migratory birds. Or exotic which might be the best translation. Or accidental.
So then peregrinus would mean an organism outside its usual range.

I see that the right or left arrow meaning from isnt supported here which is a useful shorthand in etymological discussions.

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