Tree Peony Hybrids

The process of hybridisation of tree peonies began in China as early as the 3rd or 4th century AD. They were exported to Japan by the early 1600’s where a separate process of hybridisation occurred. They reached Western Europe in the early 18th century but the main European hybridisation attempts did not begin until the early-mid 19th century, when French plantsmen such as Noisette, Mathieu, His and Seneclauze began to offer their own seedlings. By 1846, Seneclauze listed thirty six varieties. By the early 1900’s, French hybridisers were experimenting with P.lutea as a parent, and the father, son team of Victor and Emille Lemoine produced such well known hybrids as Satin Rouge, Chromatella, Alice Harding, Flambeau, L’Aurore, and Surprise. Louis Henry produced the famous ‘Souvenir du Professeur Maxime Cornu’ in 1907. The Riviere family, of Crest, S.E. France have produced a significant number of Tree Peonies since the beginning of the 20th century and are still doing so. Work in America also began to take off in the early 1900’s and the most prominent and prolific hybridiser at the time was Professor Arthur Saunders, whose plants (both Herbaceous and Tree) are still in considerable demand to this day. Other hybridisers active until recently are Nassos Daphnis (d.2010) and William Gratwick (d.1988).