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California Peony
Paeonia californica
About California Peony (Paeonia californica) Nurseries Show All Photos Paeonia californica (California Peony or Wild Peony) is one of two species of Peony native to North America. It is endemic to southwest California, United States, where it grows on dry hillsides in the coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities of the coastal mountains of Southern and Central California, on the coastal slope of the mountains, from Monterey County southward. It is often seen as an understory plant among chaparral shrubs. Some authorities consider it a subspecies of Paeonia brownii which is found in the northern Sierra and Klamath mountains. It is not a rare species in the wild, but uncommon in gardens because it is very particular about conditions. It needs a dry summer dormancy, and normal garden watering will kill it.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
2.5 ft (0.8 m)

Summer Deciduous

Flower Color
Purple, Red

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Coastal plains, foothills, canyons and mountains with dry summers

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
23' - 6768'

Annual Precip. ?
9.4" - 36.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.13"

Coldest Month ?
35.2° F - 55.7° F

Hottest Month ?
62.4° F - 80.8° F

Humidity ?
0.47 vpd - 29.70 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils, including clay, coarse sand, decomposed granite, and serpentine

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -5° F

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Companion Plants
Use with other chaparral and sage scrub species that tolerate dry summer conditions, such as Eastwood Manzanita (Artcostaphylos glandulosa), Ceanothus sp., Flannelbush (Fremontodendron sp.), Buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.), California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum), Scrub Oak (Quercus berberidifolia or dumosa), Woolly Bluecurls (Trichostema lanatum), succulents such as Dudleya sp. and various cactus species.

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Rarely Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Propagation ?
This plant grows from a rootstock that can be difficult to transplant. Seed is said to be a more reliable but slower method of establishing the plant in the garden.

Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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