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.

13. Paeonia Biebersteiniana Rupr.

Ruprecht. Flora Cauc. (1869) 47; Trantvetter Incr. (1882) 61; Lipsky, Fl. Cauc. (1899) 214; Komarov and Schipczinsky in Fl. USSR VII (1936) 35; Grossheim, Opred. (1949) 44. Fl. Cauc. IV (1950) 13.

Syn. P. tenuifolia var. Biebersteiniana (Rupr.) N. Busch in Fl. cauc. critic. Ill, 3 (1901-1903) 9; Grossheim Fl. Cauc. II (1930) 91; P. tenuifolia v. hybrida (Pall.) Lipsky Fl. (1898) 235; P. tenuifolia Rupr. Fl. cauc. pp. ; MB. Fl. taur.-cauc. II (1808) 10 pp.

Perennial, its rhizome has oblong cone-shaped root thickenings; stems are 20-70 (100) cm high, simple or less rarely branchy at the upper part; leaves are thrice ternate-incised into narrow-linear, 3-10 mm wide, short, unpendent lacinules, which are naked or covered with short hairs, growing in rows along veins at the upper side. The blossoms are middle-sized, with bright-red petals, yellow anthers, red, less frequently yellow filaments; ovary is ovate, tomentose downy; stigmas are red; fruits are upright or slightly spreading. Seeds .....V.

Habitat. Over steppe slopes, among shrubberies. Original area. The outskirts of Stavropol.

Type. Outside of Stavropol, 1867, Becker, Kept in Leningrad.

Studied samples. North Caucasus, Stavropol 1827, Steven! Marshal-Bieberstein! 1867 Becker! 28, Lipsky!

Georgievsk, Wilhelms!

Chechenia, Grozny 5. V. 1890 Lipsky!

Stavropolskij Kraj, Near t. Pyatigorsk V. Hochenacker!

Near Zakan-Yurtovskaya among shrubberies, Kuznetsov!

Geographic type. Montane steppe. General distribution. The North Caucasus.

Remarks. In respect to the question of self-dependance of this species, the opinions of botanists diverge quite significantly. Most of them consider it a variety or form of P. tenuifolia L. N. Busch considers this plant a transitional form from P. tenuifolia L. to P. anomala L. growing in Siberia Denying independence of this species, he writes: "The var. Biebersteiniana (Rupr.) N. Busch can be regarded as a self-dependent species by no means, because it differs from P. tenuifolia L. with broader leaf-lobes only".

Huth (1891) took P. Biebersteiniana for P. tenuifolia L. and pointed out at P. anomala L. growing in Siberia, as a species typical for Stavropol. A fallacy of this kind was commented by N. Busch (1901).

Stern (1946) considers this plant a "tantum nomen", only, and places it in the separate list "Species non satis notae", as not being adequately studied.

The self-dependence of this species is indicated by no less authorize botanists, such as Ruprecht, Trautvetter, Lipsky, Komarov (Fl. USSR, 1937).

As it seems to us, a disagreement of this kind is a result of different concepts about species volume being used in every case. But the main reason is the absence of well-furnished herbariums and proper interest for these species. Occasional desultory gatherings of the plants were carried out, without taking into account ecologic and geographical characteristics in this case. Only on a base of massive collections and regular observations in natural conditions, it is possible to reveal differences between so closely related species, as P. tenuifolia L., P. Biebersteiniana Rupr. and P. carthalinica Ketzch.

As indicatory features for comparing these species, such the characters are mentioned as follows: the larger width of leaf-lobes of P. Biebersteiniana Rupr. in comparison with P. tenuifolia L. and the row of hairs at the upper side of grayish leaves. But if the ovary's and fruit's pubescence made up by red hairs is taken into account for P. tenuifolia, as it was pointed out by Gmelin, Willdenow in "Flora USSR" previously, than a complex of characters needed for recognizing the species will be obtained in this case.

Besides, these plants have different areas of distribution. Just as the outskirts of Stavropol including hills (the Stavropol plateau) are known to be the only area for P. Biebersteiniana Rupr. distribution, so this peony may be considered an endemic species for this region (see "Fl. USSR"). So, having been described in the steppe zone of Ukraine (the outskirts of Taganrog), P. tenuifolia L. is known to be propagating throughout steppe regions of the South European part of the USSR, North Caucasus. Transcaucasus and the Middle Europe.