Wild Peony…Who Knew?


Open filed on the ranch in early Spring: January!

Early spring begins in January on our So. California ranch

My grandmother taught me about all the wildflowers in the woods and fields when I was a girl growing up in Vermont.   When I married and moved to an avocado ranch in California,  I didn’t have time to explore all the plants on the ranch because I was busy with babies.  In the past several years I’ve had the time to discover special flowers and plants that come back every spring.  One of my favorites is the wild peony.  See the yellow flags in the photo?  They mark the wild peony plants!

The peonies that we had in Vermont had gigantic pink blooms that were so heavy they bowed over.  The flowers were usually full of ants too!  We knew that summer had finally arrived when the peonies bloomed.   I had no idea that peonies grew wild in California!

Wild Peony Plant

Wild Peony Plant

One day a few years ago I found a plant that reminded me of peonies.  It had leaves similar to a peony and a tightly closed bud that was perfectly round, just like a peony.  When I looked it up in the wild flower book I found out …it was a peony!

Wild peony bud

Bud on a Wild Peony

Every year since then I have watched for the peony plants to emerge from the soil and enjoyed the blooming process.   Here is what the plant looks like when it is in bloom.

plant in bloom

Peony Plant in Bloom

The flower never opens very far. Its dark red petals last just a day or two, and then they fall off as the seed pods begin to develop.

Wild Peony Flower

Wild Peony Flower

Peony flower and seed pod

Peony Flower and Seed Pod

The fully developed pods remind me of the flower in the Little Shop of Horrors!


peony seed pod

Seed Pod of the Wild Peony

I have been placing flags near every plant that I find, so that we will know where they grow even when the season is past.  These are rare native plants!

flagged peony plant

Flagged peony plant

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