Paeonia obovata, the woodland peony, is native to China, Japan, Korea, and the far eastern parts of Russia. Translations of common names from other languages include grass peony and mountain peony, though perhaps something gets lost in translation. In China, at least, it is a plant of “deciduous broad-leaved, mixed broad-leaved, and coniferous forests”, suggesting woodland peony may be the most reflective of its typical habitat.
Paeonia obovata is a highly-variable species, due in part to some populations being diploid while others are tetraploid. The excellent In Defense of Plants weblog has an entry on Ploidy and Pollinators which helps explain why this makes a difference.
For the first century after introduction in European cultivation (since 1900, thanks to Ernest Henry Wilson), Paeonia obovata was typically limited to botanical gardens. In recent years, it is found its way into broader cultivation, such that Missouri Botanical Garden now has a cultivation factsheet for it: Paeonia obovata. Today’s plants were photographed in UBC Botanical Garden’s E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden in early summer.
Off-topic, but a reminder for local readers: tomorrow is AppleFest!