F.C. Stern A Study of the Genus Paeonia

chapter IV


part 2 1701- 1800

1700 or 1719 Tournefort gives a list in his Institutiones of all the known names and synonyms of paeonies and a plate to show the structure of the flower and fruit.

1712 In this year Engelbert Kaempfer published his Amoenitatum Exoticarum Fasciculus V, containing a description of many Japanese plants. Here are mentioned herbaceous paeonies (both single and double) under the names of Saku-jaku, and the shrubby ones as Fkamigusa et Hatskanguza. These, according to Matsumura, Ind. PI. Jap.2, 117 (1912), are P.lactiflora and P.suffruticosa. This is the first mention of these two paeonies in botanical literature.

1715 Pierre Joseph Garidel in an account of plants growing in the neighbourhood of Aix and elsewhere in Provence mentions two paeonies which were given him as coming from the mountains of Thorame. The work is mainly medicinal.

1720 Boerhaave in his second list of plants in the Botanic Garden of the University of Leiden enumerates twelve paeonies and gives a description of the genus. This work is quoted by Linnaeus.

1737 Now we come to the time of Linnaeus when it is necessary to examine the names that he gave to different paeonies and the literature he quotes in giving these names. Linnaeus was the first botanist to use the name of " officinalis " which has become perhaps the commonest name in the genus. It is essential to show which species Linnaeus meant by each name.

1748 Linnaeus in Hortus Clijfortianus (1737), under the generic name of Paeonia, quotes ten authors, the earliest being Cesalpino (1583) ; later in the Hortus Upsaliensis (1748) he describes three species :—

a P.folius lobatus ex ovato lanceolatis Haller Helv. 311, also quoting Bauhin's Pinax and Lobel's Icones.

b P.communis velfemina Bauhin Pinax, also quoting Haller and Lobel.

g P.femina flore plena rubro majori Bauhin Pinax and Dodoens.

1749 While in his Materia Medico, he cites two paeonies— P.folio nigricante splendido s. mas, P.communis s. femina, in each case quoting Bauhin's Pinax.

1753 In Species Plantarum Linnaeus gives the name Paeonia officinalis under which he quotes Hort. Clijf. (1737) and Sauv. Flora MonsP.(1751), and his own two previous works. He then goes on to distinguish two varieties.

a feminea, quoting Hall Helv. (1745), Bauh. Pinax (1623); Fuch. hist. (1542) Lob. Icones (1581).

b mascula, quoting Hall Helv. (1745) Bauh. Pinax (1623); Lob. Icones (1581).

He then says, " It grows in woods of the mountains of Crete and Switzerland. I do not find limits between the species hence I join them." [end page 125]

Although Linnaeus says he did not find limits between the species, he does, as his quotations from previous authors show, recognise the male and female paeonies. These authors had not only described them but in the case of Fuchs, which he quotes only under v. feminea, there is a good drawing of P.femina (see page 119) ; Linnaeus also quotes Haller, who in his turn quotes among other works Mattioli (1565) wherein there are fine figures of P.femina and P.mascula (see pages 121 and 122). These quotations appear to fix the type of the two paeonies Linnaeus had in mind. Further, Haller also quotes Gesner (1559), who states that P.femina grows in the mountains above Glarus, from which the River Serf rises, that is near Lugano, the location from which there are plenty of specimens in herbaria of the form identified with oc femina, that is P.officinalis.

The question is now to find out how the name of P.officinalis came to be restricted to one species, and to do this it will be necessary to go through the literature subsequent to the publication of the Species Plantarum in 1753.

1742 Haller in Enumeratio methodica Stirpum Helvetiae enumerates the plants indigenous to Switzerland and quotes Lobel with regard to the paeony found on Mt. Generoso, near Lugano.

1745 J. W. Weinmann in his Phytanthow, 4, t. 777, published at Ratisbon, has a long text in German and Latin giving the ancient myths and a list of species following Bauhin and Clusius, with their uses in medicine and their cultivation. P.byzantina minor of Clusius is said to be indigenous to Scakaick (a Turkish name) and the illustration might represent P.arietina. The illustrations are charming but not of much value.

1751 The rare little book, Sauvage's Flora Monspeliense, is not of great interest except that the male and female paeonies are reported as growing in the south of France.

1759 P.tenuifolia was named by Linnaeus in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae (1759). P.anomala was named and described by him in Mantissa Plantarum altera in 1771.

1762 Kniphof's Herbarium vivum has a good coloured plate of P.officinalis and quotes Linnaeus var. oc.

1764 F. A. P.de Garsault in Figures des Plantes et des Animaux, t. 435, gives two small but good figures of paeonies - one named P.mas and the other P.femina; both are described and said to be in cultivation. Garsault makes no reference to Linnaeus or to the name " officinalis."

Garsault's names are not acceptable under the International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature because under Art. 68 (4), ed. 3 (1935), specific epithets must be rejected when they were published in works in which the Linnean system of binary nomenclature for species was not consistently employed. Because Garsault's work comes under this injunction his name of P.mas for P.mascula cannot be accepted.

1765 Antoine Gouan in Flora Monspeliaca, 266, describes P.officinalis as from Puy de St. Loup, quoting Magnol (1676).

1769 J.G.Gmelin in Flora Siberica, IV, enumerates three species, using pre-Linnean names which represent P.lactiflora, P.anomala and P.tenuifolia.

1759-1768 Miller's Gardeners' Dictionary is an important work. Philip Miller was the curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden from 1722 to 1770, and had the honour of showing Linnaeus round the gardens in 1736. In the preface to the 7th edition (1759) Miller writes, " the descriptions given of the plants are not copied from books but are taken from Nature ; the far greater number are [end page 126] from growing plants which the author has under his care and others are from dried samples which are well preserved."

The above note has caused a great deal of confusion which exists to this day. It will be shown later how this confusion arose.

In the 8th edition (1768) of the Dictionary Miller adopted Linnaeus's binomial system of naming plants. P.mascula and P.foemina are mentioned, quoting Haller and Bauhin's Pinax. P.mascula is called the common male paeony which grows naturally in the woods of Helvetia, but the distribution of P.foemina is not given, only that " several varieties of this sort with double flowers are cultivated in English gardens." Neither Linnaeus nor his name of " officinalis" are referred to. P.hirsuta appears to be a double form of the " officinalis " type, and the description of P.tartarica is vague ; it might be meant for P.humilis var. villosa.

P.lusitanica is described as possessing lobated leaves whose lobes are oval and hoary on the undersides. It was given to Miller by De Jussieu, who said he brought the seeds from Portugal. The description might fit P.humilis but in the herbaria there are no specimens of P.humilis recorded from Portugal. There is also a note that it has a sweet scent which has suggested that it might be P.Broteri, the only paeony well known in Portugal.

Indeed in the Boletini da Soc. Broteriana (1935) the name P.lusitanica Mill. is used for what I have called P.Broteri. It is not, in my opinion, certain which plant Miller was describing; his description " folius lobatis lobis ovatis inferne incanis " might well fit P.humilis, especially as he described the plant as 1 ft. high. The Spanish form of P.humilis is usually about 1 ft. high but P.Broteri is a taller plant. It may be agreed that by the adjective " incanis " Miller does not intend to signify " hoary " but rather " glaucous " since he used the same word for the back of the leaves of P.mascula. I am not satisfied that the plant described by Miller as P.lusitanica is indeed the Portuguese plant and therefore am keeping to the well-known name of P.Broteri for the Portuguese plant. Ascherson and Graebner (1923) are also in doubt with regard to Miller's name and keep to P.Broteri, the Index Kewensis also expresses doubt about Miller's name.

There has also been much confusion over Miller's name of P.peregrina although Miller himself correctly describes it and its distribution when he says, " grows naturally in the Levant."

Stapf, in Bot. Mag., t. 8742 (1918), connects the name of P.peregrina with the deep red paeony common in the Balkan Peninsula from Rumania to Serbia and Macedonia and which occurs near Brusa and Smyrna in Turkey. He gives a reasoned summary of why he has come to this decision and in this summary he has followed Carl Fritsch (1899), who was the first to restrict the name P.peregrina to the Balkan and Turkish plant. Fritsch cites as synonyms P.decora Anderson, P.lobata Desf. ex DC. pro parte and P.romanica Brandza, and shows that Miller's name is based on the " Paeonia peregrina flore sature ruberte " of C. Bauhin, which in turn rests on the " Paeonia byzantina prior " of Clusius. Miller describes P.peregrina in his Gardeners' Dictionary, Ed. 8, n. 3 (1768), and quotes C. Bauhin's paeony as the synonym. Confusion arose because Miller says his descriptions are from plants either alive or dried and not copied from books, and there is no dried example of this species among his specimens in the Banksian Herbarium now at the British Museum. Stapf refers to this and says, " the only sheet there on which Miller has written the name P.peregrina bears two small specimens both received by him from the Paris Herbarium ; neither is the red paeony of Constantinople, one appears to be P.officinalis and the other apparently a plant from the mountains of the south of France." The authorities at the British Museum inform[end page 127] me that the name written on the sheet, " P.peregrina Mill. Gard. Dict, is in the handwriting of Solander and not of Miller, and further, that the specimen was almost certainly part of the Houstoun herbarium which Houstoun bequeathed to Miller when he died in 1733 (Journal of Botany, 51, 132, 1913). Miller's herbarium was purchased by Sir Joseph Banks in 1774 and Solander was the botanical secretary of Sir Joseph Banks. Presumably these specimens were not those described by Miller as P.peregrina. As Miller says all the species described by him were either growing in the garden at Chelsea or were among his dried specimens, one can only surmise that he had the true peregrina growing in the garden or that he had another dried specimen which has disappeared (see Journal of Botany, 61, 137, 1923). Miller's description of the plant does not agree with the sheets named by Solander as P.peregrina but does agree with Clusius's plant which he cites as a synonym through C. Bauhin, who quotes " Paeonia Byzantina prior Clus. hist." and " Paeonia Byzantina major Eyst." These references refer to the works of Besler and Clusius. Clusius in Rar. StirP.Pannon, 401 (1583), mentions the plant as grown in gardens from seed received from Constantinople and in his Historia, 279 (1601), gives an excellent figure of this plant. Besler in Hort. Eyst. Vern. (1613) says he has the plant from the garden of the Prince-Bishop of Eichstatt in Bavaria, and gives a good plate of it.

No doubt it was Solander's writing the name P.peregrina on the sheets of paeonies in the Banksian Herbarium that caused Sims to publish a wrong figure and description of P.peregrina in the Bot. Mag. t. 1050 (1807), where a plant from the south of France is figured and described " upon the authority of the Banksian Herbarium," though all the synonyms of the Byzantine plant are quoted. De Candolle continues the confusion in Flora Francaise, Ed. 3, 6, 643 (1815), by calling the paeony from the south of France P.peregrina, giving references to Sims and Miller. He does this again in his Systema Naturae, i, 390 (1817), and further groups Clusius's paeony with a Portuguese paeony under the name of P.lobata Desf.—a name which Desfontaines had given to a cultivated paeony but never described. The confusion continues in Anderson's Monograph of the Genus (1818)—a work published after vol.1 of De Candolle's Systema (since Anderson's collaborator, Joseph Sabine, quotes it on page 285)—wherein Anderson considers Clusius's paeony distinct from P.peregrina and names it P.decora—a name often afterwards used for the Byzantine paeony of Clusius. Then in 1824, in his Prodromus, De Candolle calls Clusius's plant P.decora, and the name P.peregrina is used for the paeony of the Banksian Herbarium and Sim's figure in the Bot. Mag. t. 1050.

1777 John Sebastien Miller illustrated Linnaeus's system in his Illustrate Systematic Sexualis. Plate 47 depicts a paeony called by him P.officinalis which is, in fact, P.mascula ; no other paeony is mentioned. Miller's real name was Johannes Sebastian Mueller ; he was born at Nuremberg in 1715 and became an artist and engraver. There are two states of this work, one coloured and one uncoloured ; the plates are well drawn and painted. The coloured copy in the Library of the Kew Herbarium is one of the most beautiful of botanical books.

1776 P.S. Pallas in his important work describing his travels in Russia in 1772 and 1773, Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reiches, describes Paeonia lactiflora from Lake Baikal province. He also mentions a paeony under the name of P.lobata which may be P.anomala and gives names only to a paeony called by him P.quinquecapsularis in a list of plants from the Ural Mountains,and to P.lactea in a list of plants peculiar to Dauria.

1778 Then in 1778 Pallas published Part II of his FIora Rossica. wherein he describes and illustrates P.tenuifolia, P.laciniata (i.e. P.anomala) [end page 128] and P.albifiora, to which he had already given the name of P.lactiflora. A certain P.hybrida is mentioned as being found in the Ural Mountains but also in gardens and in the garden of the Academy of St. Petersburg, where it had been raised from seed of P.tenuifolia. Nothing further is known of this plant, which might have been a hybrid with P.anomala. P.officinalis is mentioned as coming from the southern Caucasus ; this might have been P.daurica.

1795 Pallas describes a journey to the Crimea in his Tableau de la Tauride in which he gives, as names only, P.triternata (nov.), P.tenuifolia and P.hybrida.

1783 A. J. Retzius' Observationes Botanicae was published at Leipzig during the years 1779-91. The third volume (1783) contains descriptions of four paeonies, P.corallina, P.humilis, P.officinalis and P.anomala. Retzius has a note in which he says that " the genus Paeonia has been too much ' lumped ' by Linnaeus and too much ' split' by Miller ; if P.anomala is taken as a distinct species, I do not see why the rest should not be accepted also, nor have I been able to persuade myself that all have been produced from one. If this is true, however, as others hold and I should not oppose it, then only two species should be recognised in Paeoniae—officinalis and tenuifolia. I have, however, often raised the species from seeds and they have come true."

P.corallina is well described with references to P.simplex latiore folio trifido Morison and P.mas flore purpureo Besler, and by his description and his synonyms can be recognised as the P.mascula of Miller. But under P.officinalis he quotes P.officinalis Linn., P.flore plena, etc., Morison, P.polyanthos Besler, and P.mascula Miller, i.e. he separates P.officinalis Linn. as a species but includes in it two double-flowered paeonies of Morison and Besler and P.mascula of Miller. The figures of Morison and Besler are poor and not really recognisable. Therefore it does not seem to be possible to restrict his name of P.officinalis to any particular species. He describes P.humilis with references to P.femina laciniata subtus pubescens flore purpureo ? Morison, and to P.tartarica ? Miller. Retzius' quotation from Morison seems to be a mistake for P.tennis laciniata subtus pubescens flore purpureo, following Bauhin, and this, as we shall see later, is the description of the Spanish paeony P.humilis. Lastly he describes P.anomala of Linnaeus.

1784 In Flora Japonica of Thunberg, P.officinalis is mentioned but it is not possible to decide which paeony is meant by the name.

1786 J. A. Murray in Commentationes Sociatatis Regiae Scientiarum Gottingensis VII proposes a new species, P.integra, based on a figure from J. S. Miller's Illustratio. He realised that this figure does not represent P.officinalis as he knew it and explained how this figure differed from it. Actually Miller's plate represents P.mascula. There is also in Murray's book a figure, life-size of P.anomala, said to be frequent in the mountains of the Altai and in Siberia.

1800 In Willdenow's edition of Linnaeus's Species Plantarum seven paeonies are described ; under P.officinalis he quotes Retzius and other botanists and includes P.foemina of Fuchs and Miller. Under P.corallina he quotes P.officinalis Linn., P.integra Murray, and P.mas Lobel and Besler. This seems to be the first time when P.officinalis of Linnaeus was restricted to P.foemina of the older botanists, and P.corallina to the P.officinalis of Linnaeus, P.corallina of Retzius and P.mas of the ancient botanists. P.albifiora, P.humilis, P.anomala, P.hybrida—" the bastard paeony " as he calls it, which he describes as a cross between P.tenuifolia and P.anomala—and P.tenuifolia are all described with their synonyms. [end page 129]

Willdenow enumerates the same plants in his Enumeratio plantarum Horti Berolinensis with the exception of P.hybrida, but he adds P.laciniata which he says is similar to P.tenuifolia but taller with broader foliage and tomentose carpels, giving its habitat as Siberia. This description only differs from his description of P.anomala by the tomentose carpels and the leaves which are described as " laciniis linearibus " instead of " lanceolatis." This may be the first reference to P.anomala var. intermedia.