Paeonia intermedia((Hong, De-Yuan. “Peonies of the World. Taxonomy and phytogeography.” Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, 2010, p. 205.))

Herbs perennial, up to 70 cm tall. Tap roots cylindrical, to 2 cm in diameter, woody when old; lateral roots thickened, tuberous, tubers spheroidal to long-fusiform. Lower leaves biternate, covered with bristles along veins above, always glabrous beneath; leaflets several times segmented; segments 70—100 in number, more-or-less decurrent at the base, linear, 6-16 cm long, 0.4-1.8 cm wide, sometimes lobed, acuminate at the apex. Flowers solitary, terminal; involucrate bracts 3 in number, leaf-like, unequal in size; sepals 3-5 in number, often red-purple, ovateorbicular, 1.5-2.5 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, mostly rounded (at least 2 non—caudate) at the apex, glabrous; petals 7—9 in number, purple-red, obovate, 3.5—5.5 cm long, 1.5—3 cm wide, irregularly incised at the apex; filaments purple; anthers yellow; disk annular, incised, up to 2.5 mm high; carpels 2—5, but mostly 3 in number, tomentose, rarely glabrous; stigmas sessile, 1 mm wide, red; ovules 12-16 per carpel. Follicles 2—2.8 cm long, 1.1—1.3 cm wide. Seeds black, glossy, long-ovoid, 5-5.5 mm long, 3-3.5 mm in diameter.

Chromosome number: 2n=10 (diploid).

Growing on grassy and shrubby slopes, in meadows, steppes, or sparse woods, at altitudes from 900 to 3,250 m. Widely distributed in N Xinjiang of China (S to the Tianshan), Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Altai of Russia.

Until Hong & Pan (2004), Paeonia intermedia had long been identified as P. hybrida (Krylov, 1901; Schipczinsky, 1921, 1937; Gamaulova, 1961), or treated as a variety of P. anomala (Fedtschenko & Fedtschenko, 1905; Stern, 1946; Pan, 1979), as a subspecies of P. anomala (Trautvetter, 1904), or even as a form of P. anomala var. hybrida (Trautvetter, 1860). These different and erroneous assignments were made because: (1) the identities of P. anomala, P. intermedia and P. hybrida were not clear to the authors mentioned above, (2) previous authors emphasised the taxonomic value of indumentum on carpels, and (3) the root and calyx characters and their correlation were ignored. Our examination of the types of these three taxa, together with extensive observations of herbarium specimens and natural populations, show that P. intermedia C. A. Mey. is an independent species, differing distinctly from P. anomala by its lateral tuberous to long—fusiform roots, and sepals that are mostly (at least 2 out of 3-5) rounded at the apex but not caudate (Hong & Pan, 2004). In contrast to P. anomala, P. intermedia prefers relatively sunny and dry habitats. In P. intermedia carpels vary in number from 2 to 5, mostly 3, and from tomentose to rarely glabrous even within populations. Ovczinnikov (1975) properly treated the peony in Tajikistan as an element of P. intermedia, but his description of the new subspecies pamiroalaica is not justifiable. His description and our extensive observations have not revealed any significant difference from other populations. Paeonia hybrida Pall. has been shown to be a synonym of P. tenuifolia L. (Hong & Pan, 2004).

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