The Caucasian Representatives of the Genus Paeonia L.

L.M. Kemularia-Nathadse, Trudy Tiflis. Botan. Sada 1961


Chapter IV

Systematic analysis of Caucasian species of the genus Paeonia L.

1. Paeonia macrophylla (N. Alb.) Lomak.

Lomakin in "Trudi of Tifl. Bot. Sad" II (1897) 282, Lipsky "Fl. Cauc." (1899) 213; Komarov and Schipsky in "Fl. USSR" VII (1937) 30.

Syn. P. corallina. var. Wittmanniana forma Macrophylla N. Alb. Prodr. Fl. Colchid. (1895) 15; P. Wittmanniana Stev., forma macrophylla (N. Alb.) N. Bush in Fl. Cauc. critica III, 3 (1901-1903) 13; P. Wittmanniana Hartwis ex Lindl. var. macrophylla (N. Alb.) N. Bush ex Grossheim, "Fl. Cauc." 2 (1930) 91, F. C. Stern in Journ. Royal. Hort. Soc. 68 (1943) 126; L. Kemularia-Natadze in "Fl. Gruzia" IV (1948) 6; Grossheim, Opred. (1949) 44, Fl. Cauc. IV (1950) 13; Stern, A Study of the Gen. Paeonia in Royal Hortic. Soc. (1946) 59; P. Wittmanniana, Kolakovsky "Fl. Abch." II (1939) 121 pp.

Perennials. The rhizomes are nearly horizontal, branchy with fusiform radical thickenings; stems are long, 100-150cm high, firm, branchy; leaves are green at both sides or grayish from beneath, naked or downy from beneath. The leaf-lobes are large, 12-15cm long, obovate, oblong-oval, tapered at the base and apex or long acuminate at the apex only. The blossoms are wide patent, with cream, yellowish-white slightly concave petals; anthers and filaments are yellow; or filaments are dark-violet at the base; ovary is naked, long, narrow, ovate-cylindrical, gradually tapering into a long style at the apex; stigmas are dark-violet, one-sidedly laminate (very often the whole pistil is coloured in violet). The fruits are large, long, oblong, spreading, after getting ripe they are pendent. The seeds are bluish-black, (V-VI).

Habitat. From the upper mountain belt up to the subalpine belt, in forest and on margins. Original area. Georgia, Adjaria. A slope of mountain Chkvish-Tavl. the village Agara.

Type. It has been described from live samples grown in the late Caucasian department of the Tiflis Botanical Garden from seeds, procured by N. Albov.

Studied samples. Georgia, Abkhazia. The outskirts of Gagri, Schavrov!

Guria, the Adjar-Imerinsky ridge, the Guriysky ridge. The outskirts of Bakhmaro, 6/VII-1914, E. Kikodze!

The Adjar-Imeretinsky ridge, the border between shrubbery thickets and alpine meadows by Zotis-Keli, 7/V-1914, E. Kikodze!

Adjaria, mountain slope of Chakvis-tavi near the village Agara, 14/VIII-1893, Albov!

Cultivated at the Cauc. dpt. of Tifl. BG, 9/IV-1902, Fomin!

The Adjaro-Guriysky ridge, by the pass up to Gomis-mta, a meadow in the midst of subalpine forest, at the west slope, 13/VIII-1956, A. Dolukhanov and A. Kazarova!

Geographical type: Mountain Kolkhidsky. Main distribution: West Transcaucasus.

Remarks. This species was described in 1895 by N. Albov and named P. corallina var. Wittmanniana forma macrophylla N. Alb. Lomakin was quite right, having separated it from the red-flowered peonies and determined it as a self-dependant species, different from P. corallina and P. Wittmanniana Stev.

Afterwards, with exception of Lipsky (1897) and authors of "Flora USSR" (1937), botanists considered this plant a variety or form of the species P. Wittmanniana, accepting a point of view of Steven, or Hartwiss, or Lindley. Through the magazine "Flora Gruzii" (1948), we expressed the opinion of the majority of botanists, considering P. Wittmanniana Stev. and P. Wittmanniana Hartwiss ex Lindley, as one species. But at present, after it has been found out that the name P. Wittmanniana (see references about P. Wittmanniana Hartwiss) denotes two different species and the characters of the Adjarian peony are transitional between the characters of the two above-mentioned peonies,.we were compelled to discard our previous point of view and recognize the Adjarian peony, as a self-dependent species.

Undoubtedly, P. macrophylla (N. Alb.) Lomak. with its naked fruits and peculiar form of ovary is much akin to the species of Steven (from our point of view). Nevertheless, the former species distinctly differs from the latter with its form, broad-patent blossoms, petals colour (more pale) and lobes form at both sides of nearly mono-coloured green leaves (in most typical cases).

Both species differ from each other with areas of distribution, just for instance, P. macrophylla (N. Alb.) Lomak. may be met in Abchazia also, where P. Wittmanniana Hartwiss grows, so that it does not abandon the region of Kolchida (its area may be Lasistan), and as to P. Steveniana Kem.-Nath. (P. Wittmanniana Stev. non Hartwiss), it grows in forests of the East Georgia, the regions adjoining the West Transcaucasus, which are much influenced by the Kolchidsky-floristical climatic conditions (Mesketia, Borjom-Bakuriani and the South-Osetia).

It should be emphasized that the downy-fruited peonies grow separately from the bare-fruited peonies (Lagodech, Talish for the former peonies; Adjaria, Guria, Imeretia, Megrelia, Meschetia, Kartly, the South Osetia for the latter peonies) and these two peonies are never met growing together in other regions of Caucasus.