Paeonia brownii

Another entry today compiled and mostly written by Alexis:

Today’s photo was submitted via email by Liesl Zappler, who writes: “After reading The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest by Jack Nisbet, and finding out about the native Brown’s peony, I was determined to find it this spring. It’s been known to be in the Blue Mountains of Washington, as well as in northeast Oregon. Thanks to the rangers at the Pomeroy, WA and Pendleton, OR National Forest stations, I was able to find the peonies east of Athena, OR on Wild Horse Rd.” Thanks, Liesl!

Paeonia brownii, a native to the western United States, is a fleshy leafy plant that usually has several clustered stems. Its leaves are deeply lobed and bluish-green in colour, while its solitary flowers (a single flower on each peduncle) are greenish and reddish-brown. Paeonia brownii habitats range from ponderosa pine forests to sagebrush deserts.

The licorice-tasting roots of Paeonia brownii were used by First Nations to make a tea for healing lung illnesses. In fact, the genus name Paeonia originates from the name Paeon (or Paean), who was the physician of the Greek gods.

Though some consider Paeonia brownii to be the only peony species native to North America (and divided into two subspecies), two species are recognized by the Flora of North America (representing the general consensus). Paeonia californica (image) is found in southern California to northern Mexico.

Paeonia brownii
Paeonia brownii
Paeonia brownii

9 responses to “Paeonia brownii”

  1. Debby

    Congratulations on fulfilling your quest, Liesl!

  2. Connie Hoge

    Congratulations, Leisl! And thank you- I never knew we had native paeonies. The Chinese paeonies are poisonous, aren’t they?

  3. carrie

    Thanks for the update on your trip!

  4. phillip

    …again and again..once you think you’ve seen it all..again and again amazed..

  5. Zilly

    Informative write up and most interesting. The US East Coast has never seen anything like it! Wonderful to add to the paeony list.

  6. Ginger Steele

    I once observed a beautiful example of this plant a few feet from a restroom at the turnaround at Hat Point, east of Enterprise, Oregon. The plant I saw had vivid green petals with brown dots, and perhaps a dozen flowers on a mature plant. It was amazing to find it untouched and thriving in a high-use area.

  7. Gillian Ferranto

    There are a lot of these at Tahoe. At the south shore, anyway, which I’m familiar with. Along the walk at Kahle park they are even marked with plaques, and quite a lot just in the woods around. I understood it to be protected?

  8. Eric in SF

    Great shots of the developing seeds!
    I found this species in the Mendocino Mountains in Glenn County, California:

  9. Scott Clay-Poole

    We have the wild Peony on our future retirement property in the poderosa pine forest of McCall, Idaho. (to help those with geographical range). Altitude is 5200 feet.

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