Flower Forms

Peony blooms range from simple blossoms, with only a few petals, to complex clusters with petals packed in multiple layers. Peony flower shapes are usually assigned to one of four major groups: single, semi-double, Japanese, and double (which is probably the most popular peony flower shape). In addition, the terms "anemone" and "bomb" are occasionally found. My descriptions of these follow, along with examples. As well, there is a glossary of some of the botanical terms used:

SingleGraphic of Single form peony
• consist of a single row (or, at most, two rows) of petals - usually between 5 and 12 petals in total - around a central group of fuzzy yellow pollen-bearing stamens, with a small cluster of carpels in the very middle
Examples of single peonies: Athena, Claire de Lune, Coral 'n Gold, Early Scout, Firelight, Flame, Illini Warrior, Krinkled White, Lavender, Paeonia mlokosewitschii, Paeonia officinalis mollis, Paeonia peregrina, Paeonia tenuifolia, Paeonia veitchii, Roselette, Roy Pehrson's Best Yellow, Scarlett O'Hara, Sea Shell, Sword Dance, White Wings
Semi-doubleGraphic of Semi-double form peony
• have two, three, or more rows; typically have some irregularly-shaped petaloids. In some cases the yellow stamens are mixed in with the petaloids; in others there is a distinct centre made up of stamens and carpels
Examples of semi-double peonies: Auguste Dessert, Buckeye Belle, Cora Louise, Coral Charm, Dandy Dan, Miss America, Nice Gal, Paula Fay, Pink Hawaiian Coral, Red Red Rose
JapaneseGraphic of Japanese form peony
• have a large, central cluster of stamens which have all been transformed into very slender petals called stamenodes (or stamenoids). Usually the edges and tips of the stamenodes are yellow (representing the remains of the yellow pollen colour). Japanese-form peonies are also known as "Imperial" peonies.
Examples of Japanese peonies: Bride's Dream, Bu-te, Cheddar Supreme, Doreen, Gold Standard, Honey Gold, Jan van Leeuwen, Le Charme, Madame Butterfly, Mahogany, Mikado, Nippon Beauty, Plainsman, Walter Mains, Westerner
AnemoneGraphic of anemone form peony
• are usually considered a version of the Japanese type. Anemone-form blossoms look very much like Japanese-form blooms, but the staminodes have are even more petal-like (although still very narrow in many cases) and are now referred to as petalodes (or sometimes petaloids). Also (unlike the stamenodes of the Japanese form), the anemone-form petalodes are almost always a single colour throughout the petal.
Examples of anemone-form peonies: Bowl of Beauty, Butter Bowl, Do Tell, Fancy Nancy, Gay Paree, Laura Dessert, Primevère, Show Girl, White Sands
DoubleGraphic of double form peony
• many layers of ruffled petals; usually no stamens are visible (since all or most of them have become petals). However, sometimes a thin ring of natural stamens will be seen in among the petals
Examples of fully double peonies: Ann Cousins, Attar of Roses, Baroness Schroeder, Bowl of Cream, Candy Stripe, Chestine Gowdy, Clemenceau, David Harum, Dinner Plate, Dr. Alexander Fleming, Duchesse de Nemours, Edulis Superba, Elsa Sass, Etched Salmon, Evening Star, Festiva Maxima, Gardenia, Gilbert H. Wild, Henry Bockstoce, Hermione, Kansas, Karl Rosenfield, La Fée, La France, Le Cygne, Lillian Gumm, Longfellow, Madame Jules Dessert, Maestro, Martha Bulloch, Mother's Choice, Mrs. Edward Harding, Mrs. Euclid Snow, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Myrtle Gentry, Nick Shaylor, Paeonia officinalis, Paul M. Wild, Pillow Talk, Princess Margaret, Rosa Bonheur, Ruth Clay, Sarah Bernhardt, Shirley Temple, Solange, Sorbet, Thérèse, Tourangelle, Walter Faxon
BombGraphic of bomb form peony
• (sometimes called "bomb double", as it is considered a type of double). Typically, the center segments form a nice, round ball, sitting on top of a lower ring of "guard" petals, which are sometimes of a different colour. (The word "bomb" probably comes from "bombe" which is the name of a round, frozen desert popular after World War I.)
Examples of bomb form peonies: Angel Cheeks, Big Ben, Charlie's White, Fairy's Petticoat, Félix Crousse, Mister Ed, Monsieur Jules Elie, Raspberry Sundae, Red Charm, Top Brass

In addition, we find that some peonies are of mixed types, such as the following:

Semi-double to double: Bartzella, First Arrival, Garden Treasure, Hillary, Kopper Kettle, Lady Alexandra Duff
Single to semi-double: Blaze, Julia Rose, Sequestered Sunshine

To see more detailed information about one of the peony varieties listed above, please click on the underlined name of that peony variety.


Finally, here is the glossary of botanical terms used:

anther: the end part of the male stamen that produces grains of pollen
carpel: the female reproductive organ that bears the juvenile seed
filament: thin, thread-like stalk of stamen, holding up the pollen-bearing anther
guard petals: petals which form the lowest layer or ring of petals; may be slightly larger or different shade than the petals that make up the central portion of the blossom
petalode: slender (often irregular) petal, which has developed from the filament of a stamen
petaloid: same as a "petalode"
stamenode: broadened and flattened filament of a stamen; not as petal-like as a petalode
stamenoid: same as a "stamenode"
stamen: the male part of the flower; consists of the anther and the slender filament that holds it in position


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This page created and maintained by
A. Steinbergs

Last revised September 8, 2008