Paeonia suffruticosa Andrews subsp. atava (Brühl) Haw & Lauener

A Review of the Infraspecific Taxa Of Paeonia Suffruticosa AndrewsEdinburgh Jour Botany 47(3):273-281 (1990)

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

accepted name (2005):

Paeonia rockii (Haw & Lauener) subsp. atava (Brühl) D.Y. Hong 2005


S. G. Haw & L. A. Lauener



Paeonia suffruticosa Andr. subsp. atava Brühl in Ann. Roy. Bot. Gard. Calc. 5(2); 114-225,1.126 (1896). Type: Tibet, Chumbi, Tuk Chang, vi 1884, King's collector 549 (holo. K).

This subspecies was based on a specimen collected in the Chumbi area of southern Tibet (close to the borders with both Bhutan and Sikkim) in June 1884 by a native collector. A further specimen which appears to be very similar was collected in the Tibet-Bhutan border region in June 1906 (White's collector s.n. (CAL, n.v.) drawing at K). The locality data for both specimens is vague and of uncertain reliability. Stern (1946) thought their provenance to be dubious and believed that they might be seedlings from plants cultivated at lamaseites. This was no more than an assumption, however. Both specimens show clear differences from P. suffruticosa cultivars, being smaller in all their parts and having leaves divided into as many as 15 leaflets, the leaflets often cleft or rather bluntly toothed, usually with no more than 3 or 4 teeth per leaflet. The flower colour of King's collector 549 is given as 'reddish-white' and the petals appear to be entirely unblotched. There are therefore also obvious differences from both subsp. spontanea, which never has leaves with more than 9 leaflets, and subsp. rockii, which has much larger flowers with white petals blotched with deep purple at the base. Nevertheless the floral disc entirely sheathes the carpels, which are hairy, so that this plant can certainly be placed with P. suffruticosa. It is possible that it is a third wild subspecies, but until further specimens of more certain provenance are available its status must remain doubtful.

There is in the Herbarium at Kew a specimen from Bhutan, Gould 132, collected in May 1938 between Chang-na Na and Pharo [Paro] at 7750-9600 feet, which has leaves divided into C.19 or perhaps more leaflets and a solitary large flower with blotched petals and hairy carpels. Though it was originally identified as P. lutea on the herbarium sheet (later altered), it is clearly a form of P. suffruticosa. Its collection locality is not very far from the general area in which the specimens of subsp. atava were collected, but it does not resemble those specimens very closely, differing most obviously in having a large flower with blotched petals. It appears to be closer to subsp. rockii, but the leaflets are quite frequently lobed, with up to c.5 rather blunt, shallow lobes per leaflet. It is quite possible that it is

Hong (1996)

Paeonia moutan Aiton subsp. atava Brühl

Brühl (1896) described this subspecies based on King 549 (K), which was collected from Tibet (Chumbi, Tuk Chang, June 1884). Haw and Lauener (1990) treated the plant as Paeonia suffruticosa Andréanszky subsp. atava. The wild plants of P. suffruticosa subsp. spontanea are confined to a small area in N Henan, S Shanxi, and C Shaanxi. In fact, the whole P. suffruticosa complex (including P. rockii, P. ostii, and P. qiui) is confined to the Qinling Range and adjacent regions in North-central China, and none of its taxa has been recorded from Sichuan or Xizang. Several expeditions to Yadong County, where Chumbi is located, have been made since the early 1950s, but no Paeonia was found. The populations of subspecies spontanea and subspecies atava are isolated by more than 2000 air km and by the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau and the Himalayas.

Hong, D.-Y. & Pan, K.-Y. 1999.

A revision of the Paeonia suffruticosa complex (Paeoniaceae). -Nordic Journal of Botany 19: 289-299. Copenhagen. ISSN 0107-055X.

5. Paeonia rockii (S. G. Haw et L. A. Lauener) T. Hong et J. J. Li

Bull. Bot. Res. 12(3): 227. Fig. 4. 1992; D. Y. Hong in Acta Phytotax. Sin. 37: 1998.

P. suffruticosa Andrews subsp. rockii S. G. Haw et L. A. Lauener in Edinb. J. Bot. 47(3): 279. Fig. l a (p.276). 1990. - Type: China, Kansu (Gansu), "probably near Wutu (Wudu), (Farrer's Chieh Jo)", Farrer no 8(?) (E, photo PE!).

P. papaveracea auct. non Andrews: Anonymous, Icon. Cormophyt. Sin. l: 652. Fig. 1303. 1972.

P. suffruticosa Andr. var. papaveracea auct. non. Andrews: K. Y. Pan in Wang, W. T. (ed.): Fl. Reip. Pop. Sin. 27: 45. pl. 3(p.43). 1979.

P. suffruticosa auct. non Andrews: Stern, Stud. Gen. Paeonia, 40. 1946, p. p.; Fang, in Acta Phytotax Sin. 7(4): 313. 1958, p.p.

P. moutan Sims subsp. atava Brühl in Ann. Bot. Gard. Calcutta 5(2): 114. pl. 126. 1896, syn. nov. -Type: Tibet (Xizang), Chumbi, Tuk Chang, 1884, 06, King's Collector 549 (K).

P. suffruticosa Andr. subsp. atava (Brühl) S. G. Haw et L. A. Lauener, in Edinb. J. Bot. 47(3): 280. 1990. syn.nov.

P. suffruticosa Andrews, "Rock's Variety' ('Joseph Rock') hort.

This species is characterized by leaves tri- (or bi-) pinnate; leaflets usually 1933, very rarely less than 19; filaments yellow; floral disc yellowish white; Stigmata yellow and petals white but with a dark purple blotch at the base. Thus, the species differs distinctiy from the other four in the complex. And its flowers are the largest in the whole genus.

D.-Y. Hong (1997a) has described bis searching for P. moutan subsp. atava in its type locality, Yadong, S. Tibet, in 1996 with failure, and explained his consideration that so-called "atava" was actually "P. rockii" introduced by lamas.

1t is relatively widely distributed in four provinces, Gansu, Shaanxi, Henan and Hubei (Fig.8). Two subspecies can be recognized.


HONG De-Yuan & PAN Kai-Yu Taxonomical history and revision of Paeonia sect. Moutan (Paeoniaceae) Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 37(4):351-368(1999) Paeonia rockii (S. G. Haw et L. A. Lauener ) T. Hong et J. J. Li

Hong D Y &Pan K Y, 2005: Notes on taxonomy of Paeonia Sect. Moutan DC. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 43(2):169-177

(PDF: http://www.plantsystematics.com/qikan/public/tjdjl.asp?wenjianming=f04-0065.pdf&id=11110)

(link to a local copy .pdf-file)

the links don't work at the moment

reduces subsp. taibaishanica to a synonym of Paeonia rockii ssp. atava (Brühl) Hong, D.-Y. & Pan, K.-Y. 2005

Carsten Burkhardt's Web Project Paeonia - The Peony Database


Free counters!




© 2006 Dr. Carsten Burkhardt