Paeonia officinalis L.

Sp. Pl. Ed. I. 530 1753

type: [herbaceous peony] – [species] – [synonym]

accepted name


A curious herbal, containing five hundred cuts, of the most useful plants, which are now used in the practice of physick : engraved on folio copper plates, after drawings taken from the life / by Elizabeth Blackwell. To which is added a short description of ye plants and their common uses in physick.

Author: Blackwell, Elizabeth

Additional Authors: Harding, Samuel

Publisher: London : Printed for Samuel Harding, 1737-1739.


Linne's description

Carl von Linné (Syn. Carolus Linnaeus)

For Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) all the kinds of peony distinguished by his predecessors belonged to one species which he named Paeonia officinalis in his Species Plantarum 1:530 (1753), the starting point of modern botanical literature: “limites inter species non reperi, hinc conjunxi” he stated, “I have not discovered limits between species, hence I have united them”. His specific epithet officinalis refers to their medicinal repute. He maintained, however, the traditional distinction between the female and male peonies derived From Dioscorides by treating them as varieties, one being named

var. (alpha) feminea the other

var. (beta) mascula.

Later authors separating them as species have restricted the specific name P. officinalis to his var. (alpha) the plant illustrated in 1542 by Fuchs, whose woodcut he selected as an outstanding representation.

Common names
 Mu Shao Yao      Sakayik  Yoshu-Syakuyaku 








Cullen & Heywood in Tutin: Flora Europaea


5. P. officinalis L., Sp. Pl. 530 (1753). Lower leaves divided into 17-30 segments, pubescent beneath, glabrous above; petioles deeply channelled on the upper surface. Flowers 7-13 cm in diameter, red. Filaments red. Follicles 2 or 3, 2-3-5 cm, usually tomentose, sometimes glabrous. S. & S.C. Europe. Al Ga He Hi Hu It Ju Lu Rm [Ge].




At least the central leaflet divided almost to base




Most of the leaflets divided almost to base




(a) subsp. officinalis




Only the central leaflet divided almost to the base




(b) subsp. banatica




Leaflets divided not more than 1/3 of the distance to base




Follicles pubescent; stems and petioles floccose




(c) subsp. villosa




Follicles glabrous; stems and petioles pubescent




(d) subsp. microcarpa

Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Database


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