F.C. Stern A Study of the Genus Paeonia

10. P.Wittmanniana Hartwiss ex Lindley in Bot. Reg. 32, t. 9 (1846); Ann. de Gand. 2, t. 46 (1846) ; Walpers, Ann. 1, 14 (1848) ; Buhse, Aufzähl. Transkauk. Pers. Pfl. 8 (1860) ; Boissier, Fl. Orient. 1, 97 (1867), pro parte ; Huth in Engl. Bot. Jahrb. 14, a66 (1891), pro parte ; F. C. Stern in Journ. Roy. Hort. Soc. 68, 125 (1943).Syn. P.Wittmanniana subsP.tomentosa (Lomak.) Busch in Kusnezow, Busch & Fomin, Mat. Fl. Caw. Crit. 3, iii, 14 (i90i),224 (1903).P.Wittmanniana var. tomentosa Lomakin in Trud. Tiflis Bot. Soda, 1, 30 (1895), 2, 283 (1897) ; Lipsky, Fl. Cauc. (in Trud. Tiflis Bot. Soda, 4) 213 (1899) ; Schipczinsky in Not. Syst. Herb. Hart. Bot. PetroP.2, 44 (1921).P.abchasica Miscz. ex Grossheim, Fl. Kavkaza, 2, 92 (1930) ; Komarov, Fl. U.R.S.S. 7, 33 (1937).P.corallina Retz. var. Wittmanniana Albow, Prodr. Fl. Colchicae (Trud. Tiflis Bot. Soda, 1, Suppl.), 14 (1895), quoad plantam carpellis tomentosis.P.macrophylla Lomakin sec. Saunders in Nat. Hort. Mag. 13, t. P.224 (1934)1 non (Albow) Lomakin.P.tomentosa (Lomak.) Busch ex Grossheim, Fl. Kavkaza, 2, 91 (1930) ; Stapfin Bot. Mag. t. 9249 (1931) ; Meyer in Gartenfi. 84, 177 (1935) ; Komarov, Fl. U.R.S.S. 7, 30, t. 3, fig. 4 (1937).

Description. Stem glabrous, up to i m. high. Lower leaves biternate. Leaflets broadly ovate or broadly elliptic to oblong-oval, cuneate to obliquely truncate at the base, apex bluntly acute to acuminate, 8-17 cm. long, 4'5-10 cm. broad, glabrous and shining green above, lighter green below, with scattered long white hairs especially dense along the nerves, petioles with long scattered hairs at the apex. Flowers 10-12 cm. across, bowl-shaped. Petals concave, orbicular, 6 cm. across, yellowish. Stamens 2 cm. long, numerous, filaments red, up to 1 cm. long. Anthers golden, 1 cm. long. Carpels 2 or 3 (rarely 4), tomentose, stigma crimson. Follicles 3 cm.








(This description has been drawn up from a plant grown in the garden at Highdown and from dried specimens from Leningrad Herbarium— some of which had been examined by Busch.)

Distribution. north-western caucasus : the district from Abkhazia and South-eastern Caucasus, the district of Talysch, also Elburz Mountains, south of the Caspian Sea in Persia.

The locations of the specimens lent by the Leningrad Herbarium are as follows :— (a) J. Woronow Plantae Caucasicae No. 191 coll. 27/7/1905, Abkhazia : Mt. Matozishkha (or Mochozishkba) alpine pastures. (b) N. V. Schipczinsky and E. D. Sidorova. Lenkoray exP.No. 513 coll. JV.V.S. 3/7/1931, mountain ridge between Lerik and Buzagar, southern and eastern slopes (rocky),at 1700 m. (c) 0. Voronova coll. 4/1904, Sukhum district. Mt. Akhupach in the Tsebei'da. (This mountain is located 41° 15' long. 43° 8' lat.) (</) G. Woronow Plantae Abkhaziae No. 410 coll. 23/8/1902, Arkh-dore on the ascent to Mt. Gypshira, in beech woods about 5000 ft. See also Woosnam (no collector's number), Elburz Mountains, Persia (1907). (BM.)

P.Wittmanniana is one of the yellow-flowered herbaceous paeonies of the Caucasus. A yellow-flowered paeony, according to Lindley (1846), was received in October 1842 at the Horticultural Society's Gardens at Chiswick from N. de Hartwiss, the Director of the Nikita Gardens in the Crimea. Dr. Fischer of St. Petersburg, in a letter to Sir William Hooker, says, " Mr. Hartwiss has received many interesting plants from Abcharia {sic) sent by Count M. Worontzoff. Among them he has found a yellow-flowered paeony, Epimedium pinnatum (confined hitherto to Talysch alone), etc." Lindley goes on to say that " Mr. Wittmann, after whom it [end page 56] has been named, was, we believe, a traveller in the Taurian Caucasus and afterwards gardener at Odessa." Hartwiss distributed this paeony to various European gardens; Lindley described (I.e.} and figured the plant grown at Chiswick, using for it the name P.Wittmanniana, which had been supplied by Hartwiss. Lindley described the carpels as tomentose, but in the plate in the Botanical Register (1846), t. 9, they appear to be glabrous. Christian von Steven afterwards Director of the Nikita Gardens, describing in 1848 a yellow-flowered paeony with glabrous carpels called it P.Wittmanniana, evidently in ignorance of Lindley's prior use of the name. Lindley's name, though the earlier, has hitherto been overlooked in favour of von Steven's, and the name P.Wittmanniana has been applied to the plant with glabrous carpels ; the one with tomentose carpels being treated as a variety or even as a distinct species. It is clear, however, that on grounds of priority the name of P.Wittmanniana belongs to the plant with tomentose carpels; so, should the plant with glabrous carpels be treated as a distinct species, it will have to be renamed.

The reason for Lindley's name being overlooked may be that the yellow-flowered paeony with glabrous carpels was thought to come from the district of Abkhazia in the western Caucasus near the Black Sea, and the one with tomentose carpels to be confined to the districts in the eastern Caucasus bordering the Caspian Sea. Several writers—Lomakin (1897), Busch(1901), Grossheim(1930) and Stapf (1931)—have stated this, though Busch in the Addenda (1902) to Flora Caucasica critica says that specimens with tomentose carpels had also been found in the district of Abkhazia. This statement has been confirmed from an examination of the Leningrad specimens. The place mentioned on one of the specimens has not been located but the other three were collected in the district of Abkhazia near the Black Sea at the west end of the Caucasus range. There seems, therefore, no doubt that the yellow-flowered paeony with tomentose carpels is found in the district of Abkhazia, which was thought to be the habitat only of the form with glabrous carpels.

Wild specimens of these Caucasian paeonies are rare in herbaria ; most of the specimens come from the Tiflis Botanical Garden. The only wild specimen in the herbaria that I have examined, other than those from Leningrad, is in the British Museum, but unfortunately it is fragmentary. Although a poor specimen it can be recognized as the yellow-flowered paeony with tomentose carpels ; it was collected by Woosnam in 1907 in the Elburz Mountains in northern Persia, west of Asterabad. Bunge (1901) also reports that he found this paeony in this region. Therefore one has to rely on the Russian botanists for the description and habitat of the paeony from Talysch and the eastern end of the Caucasus range. Lomakin (1895), in his "List of Plants of Talysch" in the Transactions of the Botanical Garden, Tiflis, includes P.Wittmanniana var. tomentosa and says it differs essentially from the type only in the felting of the fruits. Busch (1901) says the same, adding that Buhse found it in Masula in Persia, which is just south of Talysch. Grossheim (1930) gives its habitat as Azerbaidzhan and Baku (Lenkoran division), and described it as P.abchasica, Mischenko. In Flora U.R.S.S. (1937) there is a note that Lomakin collected a specimen with immature fruits, but later cultivated it in the Tiflis Botanical Garden, when he established that the flowers were almost the same as those of P.Wittmanniana var. nudicarpa.

From the evidence given above there seems to be no doubt that the yellow-flowered paeony with tomentose carpels is found both in the district of Abkhazia at the west end of the Caucasus range and in the districts at the east end of the Caucasus range, extending down to the Elburz mountains. Lindley named this paeony with tomentose carpels P.Wittmanniana so that name must stand, and the closely similar yellow-flowered paeonies with glabrous carpels, which are only[end page 57] reported from the districts at the west end of the Caucasus range, must be renamed. The varietal name P.Wittmanniana var. nudicarpa, given by Schipczinsky (1921) has been adopted, as there appears to be no difference between the two paeonies except the glabrous and tomentose carpels. This occurrence within the same geographical area of two forms of a species, one with glabrous the other with tomentose carpels, but with no other significant difference, has been found with other species.

P.Wittmanniana differs from P.Mlokosewitschi in possessing leaflets acute to acuminate at the apex and broadly ovate or elliptic to oblong-oval in shape. Its filaments are red and it has light yellow flowers. Also it is a tetraploid. From the variety macrophylla it is distinguished by its leaflets which are larger in all respects, though of the same shape. This increased size of the leaflets is in my opinion of somewhat doubtful value as a specific character ; possibly when more information is available it may be found to belong merely to a geographical form growing under better conditions.

The variety with glabrous carpels has been known long in gardens as P.Wittmanniana. It is unfortunate that since the name was first given to the form with tomentose carpels, the current names have to be changed round and the form with tomentose carpels must be known in future as P.Wittmanniana and the form with glabrous carpels as P.Wittmanniana var. nudicarpa.

P.Wittmanniana and its varieties come into bloom towards the end of April in the gardens of the south of England. They are most decorative plants and seem to grow easily in any position in good soil, though the flowers last longer if the plants are not put in full sun. P.Wittmanniana var. nudicarpa is said {Flora U.R.S.S., 7, 1937) to be perfectly hardy at Leningrad without any covering in winter. [end page 58]