Native Focus: Brown’s Peony, Paeonia brownii

Native Focus: Brown’s Peony, Paeonia brownii, Native to eastern Washington; south through the northern two thirds of California; east to Utah, western Wyoming, and Idaho. Native Habitat: Chaparral, sagebrush and pine forests. It is generally described as a perennial forb/herb and is a rather fleshy, bluish-green, leafy plant with its most active growth period in the spring. Brown’s peony usually has several clustered stems, divided leaves, and greenish and reddish-brown globose flowers, 1 hanging at end of each stalk.

Although it can be propagated by cuttings and seed, it has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -23°F. Brown’s Peony has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions. The Brown’s Peony is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. Currently, CSR, Inc is in the process of testing physical and cultural variables to promote optimal germination conditions for the species.

The genus name comes from Paeon, the physician of Greek gods. Northwestern Indians made tea from the roots to treat lung ailments.

Species reference: Garden Guides and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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