BALEARIC PEONY Majorcan paeonia cambessedesii

BALEARIC PEONY Majorcan paeonia cambessedesii

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Paeonia cambessedesii is a perennial herbaceous species of peony about 45 cm high. It has pink flowers. The stems, major veins and undersides of the leaves remain purple red, while the upper surface of the leaves turns into a metallic bluish green when fully grown. This endemic of the Balearic Islands is now limited to parts of northeastern and northwestern Majorca. In English it is sometimes called Balearic peony or Majorcan peony.

Paeonia cambessedesii is a clump-forming, perennial, herbaceous peony, which dies down in the autumn, and overwinters with buds just under the surface of the soil, and may reach a height of 25–60 cm. The reddish purple stem carries several alternately arranged leaves. The lowest leaves consist of nine leathery, hairless leaflets which are lanceolate to inverted egg-shaped with a pointy tip. The upper surface of the leafblade is bluish green with a metallic gloss, while the main veins are reddish purple, and the underside of the leafblade is purple. Each stem carries one cup-shaped flower of 6–12 cm with usually eight (5-10) pale to purplish pink petals, and is said to smell of roses. Within is a circle of numerous purple filaments topped by yellow anthers. The center of the flower consists of three to nine, initially purple carpels, each of which is connected through a thick style with a reddish stigma on top. The stigmas ripen before the stamens, a situation called protogyny. The three to eight (mostly four to six) carpels develop into dry dehiscent fruits (called follicles) of about 6 cm long, that open with a suture along their lengths, and contain initially carmine colored seeds that turn glossy black when fully ripe.

In February the stalks which have an intense garnet color emerge from the soil. This color is the result of a high concentration of anthocyanins, whose dark color absorbs sunlight and prevents freezing of these young and tender parts early in the year. In March the emerging stem unfolds and leaves and buds become clearly visible. A few weeks later flowering may start. First the stigmas are fertile for a few days, while the anthers remain closed to prevent self-pollination. by the time the ovaries have been fertilized, the anthers mature and pollen can be picked up by insects and carried to other flowers.
In late August, the ripe fruits open and the shiny black seeds can be dispersed. Unfertilised seeds appear as red, soft granules with flat surfaces. The seedlings of this peony usually only appear after several winters. Young plants first appear in early spring and are protected against frost by their high anthocyanin content.

Height: 60 cm, 1 m

Hardiness zones: Zone 5 and up

Location: Sun or part

Note: These seeds and plants contain toxicity. Ornamental use only.

Seeds per pack: 3 large seeds

Germination: As with many perennials, these seeds require a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:

Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period.

Alternatively, these seeds can also be planted outdoors in fall, winter, or early spring, while temperatures are still cold (but ground is workable) to germinate naturally in spring. Be sure to mark the area where you planted them, and that the soil is consistently moist.

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