F.C. Stern A Study of the Genus Paeonia
31. P.coriacea Bossier, Elench. PI. Nov. Minus Cogn. It. HisP.7 (1838), et Voy. Bot. EsP.1, t. 3, 2, 14 (1839) ; Amo y Mora, Fl. Fanerog. Penins. Iber. 6, 748 (1873); Willkomm & Lange, Prodr. Fl. HisP.3, 976 (1880); Baker in Gard. Chron., N. Ser. 21, 780 (1884) ; Colmeiro, Emm. y Rev. PI. Penins. Hisp.-Lusit. 1, go (1885) ; Lynch in Journ. Roy. Hort. Soc. 12, 435 (1890); Huth in Engl. Bot. Jahrb. 14, 266 (1891); OUrke in Richter, PI. EwoP.2, 400 (1903); Lazara e Ibiza, ComP.Fi. Espan. 2, 357 (1907) ; Bailey, Stand. Cycl. Hort. 5, 2435 (1916) ; F. C. Stern in Journ. Roy. Hort. Soc. 68, 128 (1943).Syn. P.coralllna Retz. var. coriacea (Boiss.) Cosson, ComP.Fl. Atlant. 2, 53 (i886).P.coralllna subsP.coriacea (Boiss.) Maire var. maroccana Pau & Font-Quer ex Jahandiez & Maire, Cat. PI. Maroc. 2, 240 (1932).P.corallina ft Russi (Biv.) Webb. Iter HisP.80 (1838), non Biv. ? P.Russi Biv. sec. Amo y Mora, I.e. 746 (1873), non Biv.
Description. Stem glabrous, about 55 cm. high. Lower leaves bitemate, but some of the nine leaflets are bifurcated to give 14-16 leaflets ; leaflets broadly elliptic, lanceolate to ovate, mostly acute, cuneate to widely cuneate or almost rounded at the base, the laterals practically sessile, glabrous and green above, glaucous and glabrous beneath. Flowers 7-15 cm. across. Petals obovate, rose. Stamens 1.5-2 cm. long, filaments red, anthers yellow. Carpels 2, glabrous. Follicles 4-5 cm. long.
Distribution. Southern Spain and Morocco. spain : Sierra Nevada, San Geronimo, E. Boissier (K), Bourgeau 70050 (K) ; Cerro Tesorola Cartajuela, 1520-1830 metres, J. Ball (K) ; Cerro de Trevenque, Pedro del Campo (K); sine loc. Willkomm 175 (K). Sierra de la Nieve, supra Yunquera, Boissier & Renter (K). Sierra de Grazalema, Reverchon 346 (K). Sierra de Ronda, Puerto del Viento, Bourgeau (K) ; between Grazalema and Timera, 700-800 metres, Porta & Riga so (K). morocco: Prov. de Demnat, Djebel Tihiatin, tributary of Ait Maala, Ibrahim (K) ; Djebel Tahallati, Ibrahim 2 June, 1881 (K) (P), Ibrahim 5 August, 1882 (K). Middle Atlas. Azrou, 1220 metres, F. C. Stern (K).
Paeonia coriacea differs from P.mascula in that the leaflets bifurcate, making fourteen to sixteen segments instead of the nine to twelve on a lower leaf as in P.mascula. The laterals also are practically sessile and the carpels are glabrous. It is found in southern Spain and in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The nearest paeony geographically to this species is P.Broteri, to which it has little resemblance. P.Broteri is found in the same province of Granada as P.coriacea ; the carpels of P.Broteri are tomentose with thick white bristly hairs, and it has a larger number of leaflets which are narrower than those of P.coriacea. Further, P.coriacea is a tetraploid and P.Broteri is a diploid. P.Russi var. Corsica, which also belongs to this subsection, has glabrous carpels, and more ovate leaflets, which are almost tomentose beneath with longer and distinct petiolules to the terminal leaflets.
Jahandiez and R. Maire (1931) class the Moroccan plant as a variety of P.corallina (that is P.mascula) as var. maroccana Pau et Font-Quer. There appears to be no difference between this plant and the plants from southern Spain except that the Moroccan plants flower in April and the Spanish ones in June. I saw this paeony growing in a wood of Cedrus atlantica between Azrou and Ifrane on the north side of the Middle Atlas Mountains at about 4000 feet. It was growing freely amongst a scrub of Holly and Cistus with Cytisus Battandieri above. The paeonies were a beautiful sight with a great number of plants in full bloom in the first week in April. The plants were about 20 inches high and grew mainly at the base of trees and bushes, the largest plant was bearing twenty-one flowers. Many plants were examined and no variation could be detected. [end page 88] The Algerian form is described as P.coriacea var. atlantica.
The only form of P.coriacea that I have seen in gardens is the Moroccan plant. It seems to do best against a wall or in a warm corner. The plant does not grow easily in English gardens owing to its habit of coming out of the ground early in the year, then it grows quickly and rushes into flower, which makes it liable to be caught by any cold winds and frosts in April. [end page 89]