This is an addition to the species overview made by Hong. Apparently he hasn’t visited the site in Northern Iran where it grows and from the descriptions and pictures we are inclined to rank it different from P. daurica subsp mlokosewitschii (geographically far away) or P. daurica subsp tomentosa (nearby, but unlike this plant). It is an accepted name by The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

P.daurica subsp wendelboi1

Plant 20-40 cm high, more or less hairy only on the lower surface of leaflets and outer side of sepals. Stems simple. Scales at the base of stem up to 8 × 1.5 cm, oblong, brownish violet to purple. Lower leaves biternate; petioles 5-9 cm long; leaflets 4-8 × 3.5-6 cm, orbicular to broadly elliptic; upper leaves smaller, simply ternate. Flowers solitary, terminal. Sepals ca. 1.5 cm long and broad, semiorbicular to oblong, rounded at the apex, pale green. Petals 4-4.5 cm long, elliptic to broadly ovate, pure yellow. Filaments yellow; anthers ca. 4. 5 mm long. Carpels 3-4, densely hairy.

Video: Paeonia wendelboi in Iran, copyright Alice Munsey

Iran: Asalem to Khalkhal, after the pass, 2000 m,

This species grows on a shrubland slope of high elevations in a restricted area near Khalkhal, Azerbaijan. Some of the component species are Berberis integerrima Bunge, Arum kotschyi Boiss., Verbascum gossypinum M. Bieb. and Allium akaka Gmelin.

Morphologically, it is clearly different from the other species of Iran and looks like the characters of P. mlokosewitschii Lomakin from Caucasus, Georgia. In P. mlokosewitschii plants are taller to 100 cm (not 20- 40) and leaflets are narrow ovate to ovate (not broadly elliptic to broadly ovate). Moreover, according to the notes of the authors of P. wendelboi, the two species differ in ecological preferences.

Read more about it in this article:
Ruksans, J. & H. Zetterlund. “Paeonia wendelboi, an Iranian peony to honour Per Wendelbo.” In: The Alpine Gardener, 2014, vol 82, no 2, pp. 230-237.

The species is not widely spread nor abundant. According to recent research (2020) it is critically endangered (IUCN code: CR) with only 134 mature plants in four localities (60, 40 , 30 and 4 mature plants respectively) occurring in a total area of 1,550 km² but only occupying about 1 km² of this.2 The habitat of this plant is a mountainous area with slopes, they are highly located, with rocky structures and dry deposits with shallow soil, the soil is alkaline. These habitats have dry and mild summers next to cold and snowy winters. The plant is able to withstand very high temperatures. Also this plant due to its vegetative shape and its structure can withstand water shortages in the dry season.

Paeonia wendelboi in Iran.
Images by Alice Munsey and Dimitri Zubov (see the captions underneath each image)

  1. Assadi, M. “A taxonomic revision of the genus Paeonia (Paeoniaceae) in Iran.” In: Iran. J. Bot., 2016, vol 22, no 2, pp. 75-78.[]
  2. Mahmood Bidarlard, Ziba Jamzad & Adel Jalili. “Conservation status of endemic species Paeonia wendelboi.” In: Journal of Iran Nature, 2020, vol 5, nr 4, Sept-Nov.[]

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