Brown's Peony

Scientific name: Paeonia Brownii, Family: Paeoniaceae

Herbaceous Perenial

Leaves: It has 5-8 blue-green, deeply divided leaves.

Inflorescence: Solitary bisexual flowers are terminal.

Flower: It has one or more flowers, often opening facing downward.

Corollas have 5-6 green sepals, and are larger than the petals.

Petals are leathery and dark maroon to brown, with yellow tinged edges.

Numerous stamens mature from the center outward from a fleshy receptacle.

Fruits are cylinder like with a few large seeds.

Pistils are thick and get very big (2 inch long).

FORMULA: * 5-6, 5-10, many, 2-5 follicle

Fruit: Follicle. The seeds are round, yellowish to black, large and usually less than twelve per flower

Habitat: Sagebrush Desert and Ponderosa Pine forest at altitudes of 3000-6000 ft.

Brown's Peony in Washington

Brown's Peony is common in Eastern Washington. It is common in Sagebrush Desert and Ponderosa Pine forest of high altitudes in shady areas. Sitings of Brown's Peony were found in Chelan, Asotin, Kittitas, Columbia, Yakima, and Walla Walla counties.
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Medical Uses

The peony is named after Paeon which was the Greek god of medicine and healing.

The root of Brown's Peony is cardiac (relating to the heart) and febrifuge (reduces fever). A decoction (heating or boiling to extract medicine) has been used by native North American Indian tribes in the treatment of pneumonia (lung inflammation), nausea, indigestion (difficulty digesting food), coughs, and kidney troubles. A decoction of the sun-dried roots has been used to help people put on weight. A decoction of the root has been used as a lotion on swellings. An infusion (drink) of the root can been used as a wash for sore eyes. A powder of the dried and ground root can be used as medicine on cuts, wounds, burns and sores. A tea made from the dried crushed petals of various peony species can be used as a cough remedy.


The leaves of Paeonia Brownii are edible when cooked as greens. It is best to boil them in water which will reduce the sour taste. This can be used in salads. The Natives used to pick the youngest leaves they could find in the early Spring, before the flower bloomed, and bring them to a boil. After the leaves have been boiled, they would place them in a cloth pouch and weigh it down with a rock under the river's stream. The water would run through the pouch overnight and the sour taste would disappear. This was one of the healthy food sources for Native Americans.


Plants for a Future Staff (2012). Paeonia Brownii – Douglas. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Kartesz John, Biota of North America Program (2010, July 5th). Paeonia Brownii Douglas ex Hook. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

TWC Staff (2007, January 1st). Paeonia Brownii. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Nan Vance (2012). Finding Brown’s Peony a Sweet Attraction. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture Staff (2015).Paeonia Brownii Label Data in Washington State. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Photo Credits:

"Bee Photographer" (2013). Fresh Peony Seeds from Zhongchuan Nursery. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Photographer "Reno78" (2013, May 23rd). Brown's Peony Observation. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Peter Bernhardt (2013). Floral Function of Brown's Peony. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from

Z&B Johnson (2015). Brown's Peony. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from