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Paeonia mascula

Paeonia mascula (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Saxifragales

Familia: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia
Sectio: P. sect. Paeonia
Subsectio: P. subsect. Foliolatae
Species: Paeonia mascula
Subspecies: P. m. subsp. bodurii – P. m. subsp. hellenica – P. m. subsp. mascula – P. m. subsp. russoi

Paeonia mascula (L.) Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. 8: n.º 1 (1768).

Paeonia officinalis var. mascula L., Sp. Pl. 1: 530 (1753).
Typus: Herb. Clifford: 211, Paeonia 1, sheet A (BM 000628767) (lectotype designated by Schmitt 2003).
Epitypus (designated by Schmitt 2003): France. Savigny lès Beaune (Côte d'Or) bois, taillis pierreux calcaire, vers la partie supérieure de la Combe Vauteloy, 400m, 24 mai 1911. Vergnes (P)
Paeonia mas Garsault, Fig. Pl. Med. 3: t. 435 a. 1764, nom. inval., opus utiq. oppr.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Europe
Regional: Northern Europe
Great Britain (introduced).
Regional: Middle Europe
Austria (introduced).
Regional: Southwestern Europe
France, Spain.
Regional: Southeastern Europe
Albania, Greece, Italy, Sicilia.
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Western Asia
Cyprus, East Aegean Islands, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon-Syria, Palestine, Turkey.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Paeonia mascula

Paeonia mascula

Primary references

Miller, P. 1768. The Gardeners Dictionary: containing the best and newest methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit, flower garden, and nursery. Ed. 8, 3 volumes (without pagination), John & Francis Rivington, London. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.541 Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 530. Reference page. (basionym)

Additional references

Hong, D.Y. 2010. Peonies of the world. Taxonomy and phytogeography. 302 pp., Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 978-1-84246-392-5. Reference page.
Schmitt, E. 2003. Typification of the Linnean names of the genus Paeonia L. Candollea 58(1): 183–188. PDF Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Paeonia mascula in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2020 Dec 6. Reference page.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Paeonia mascula in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.

Vernacular names
čeština: Pivoňka korálová
Deutsch: Korallen-Pfingstrose
English: Wild Peony
suomi: Munkinpioni
slovenčina: Pivonka červená
svenska: Korallpion

Paeonia mascula is a species of peony. It is a herbaceous perennial 0.5–1.5 m (1.6–4.9 ft) tall,[2] with leaves that are divided into three segments, and large red flowers in late spring and early summer. Native to Syria, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria[3] Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel,[1] this wild peony has become naturalised on two small islands in the UK.[4]


The following subspecies have been defined.[1]

Paeonia mascula subsp. mascula
Paeonia mascula subsp. bodurii
Paeonia mascula subsp. hellenica
Paeonia mascula subsp. russoi.

Paeonia mascula ssp. russoi, Cephalonia

Paeonia mascula is at risk in its natural environment due to the demand from private collectors and there is a significant trade in wild P. mascula from Turkey.[5]

Ideal conditions are light (sandy) soils although and most peonies can grow in heavy clay soil. The Wild Peony prefers acid and neutral soils, can grow in semi-shade and tolerates drought.[2]

The wild peony was introduced to the island of Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel, possibly by monks.[6] 37 plants were taken to nearby Flat Holm island by Frank Harris, the farmer at the time, in the 1930s, many of which died during the World War II occupation and fortification of the island. One remaining plant was reintroduced by the Flat Holm Warden in 1982 and is protected by fencing near the path to the lighthouse. A few plants grown from seed also survive in the farmhouse garden.[7]
Flowering cycle
Wild peony on Flat Holm island beginning to bud in early May

Paeonia mascula flowers for just one week of the year normally in May or June in the Northern Hemisphere, and the seedpods (at one stage referred to as jester's hats develop during the summer before bursting open to scatter seeds in August or September.[8] The flowers are hermaphrodite and pollinated by insects. The plant is self-fertile.[2]

Steep Holm and Flat Holm are the only known places in the UK where the wild peony has naturalised. The likely reason for this is that the islands provide a habitat similar to the Mediterranean islands where the plants originate from and the relative isolation allows them some protection.[5]

The roots of P. mascula were ground to a powder and used to treat colds and sore throats.[9]


Hong, D.-Y. (2010), Peonies of the World, Kew Publishing and Missouri Botanical Garden, pp. 181–189, ISBN 978-1-84246-392-5
Plants For A Future: Paeonia mascula, retrieved 2016-07-21
"Paeonia mascula". Red Book of Bulgaria, vol. I. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
"Paeonia mascula". Online Atlas of British & Irish Flora. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
The Peony Society: Wild Species, retrieved 2008-04-30[dead link]
The Peony Society: Steep Holm
Cardiff Council Flat Holm Project records accessed 2008-05-08
Flat Holm Island, Cardiff Council, 2004, pp. 46–47, ISBN 0-902466-14-3
M.Grieve. "A Modern Herbal". Retrieved 2008-04-12.

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