What is a Peony?
pe·o·ny (pēˈənē) (pronounced pee-uh-nee) any plant of the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae, mostly Eurasian species popular as garden and florists' flowers. Herbaceous peonies (most varieties of P. lactiflora)—formerly and still sometimes called piney—are hardy, bushy perennials that die back each year. Large, usually spring-blooming, single, semi-double or double flowers commonly range in shades from red to white.
Tree peonies (P. suffruticosa) have a somewhat woody, persistent base and are usually taller than the herbaceous, with more abundant and larger blossoms. Both herbaceous and tree are very long-lived. Both kinds of peony have long been venerated in their native China and Japan. The peony was formerly regarded as both ornamental and medicinal—the roots were used to prevent convulsions. P. brownii is a species of small peony, not horticulturally important, that is native to the West Coast of North America.