Tracking the King of Flowers

May 24, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Given that my stated hope for this now-fairly-long-running series of mini-photo-essays is to record the highlights of each day's natural history journey, this photograph of a Tree Peony blooming in my garden might seem out of place. But if I were trekking in the highlands of Central China more than a millennium ago, I'd have certainly spotted the ancestors of "the King of Flowers," as Paeonia suffruticosa is known to botanists. Four years ago, researchers in China worked out the details that led to the successful hybridization of this magical shrub, whose flowers are huge and gorgeous beyond belief. Some of the more beautiful and coveted cultivars are also expensive beyond belief, but mine are essentially mutts that I picked up cheap at Agway and have rarely let me down. Actually, I thought that this year, awful weather conditions might have made 2018 the year the tree peonies didn't bloom, but, happily, we got this one glorious blossom to savor. It's precious... and maybe more so since, from the origin research, it's clear that most of the King's antecedents no longer exist in the wild.



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