More on complex peony crosses

Jim McKenney
Thu, 01 Mar 2007 14:57:24 PST
JamieV wrote “although P. 'Pageant is an P. officianalis X (P. lactiflora 
x P. macrophylla), which is then similar to your version of P. 'Athena's 
parents and P. 'Roselette (Saunders 1943) is listed as P. lactiflora X 
(P officianals x P. macrophylla).  Saunders was apparently always 
'pushing the envelope' as he lists complex parentage, but not always the 
order of the cross.  He even crossed P. emodi x P. lactiflora, which I 
have tried but never got it to take.”

My source gives Roselette as lactiflora ×(tenuifolia × mlokosewitschii); for
Pageant, it gives the same parentage you give, but indicates that this is an
F2 hybrid. 

Don’t give up on lactiflora × emodi: Saunders himself seems to have gotten
fewer than twenty hybrids from this cross – evidently it’s doable but not
easy. Saunders described P. emodi as self-sterile, but my plant sets viable
seed on its own pollen. By the way, I assume Saunders used pollen of P.
emodi on plants of P. lactiflora, but I’m not sure. P. emodi is one of the
earliest peonies to bloom here in Maryland; it blooms weeks before the
lactiflora sorts. 

My source for this information is The Peonies, edited by John Wister, 1962:
it has lots of detailed information about Saunders, his methods, his
sources, his notebooks and his hybrids. 

For those of you who have followed this thread, let me add some human
interest. Saunders was the product of a distinguished Canadian family of
intellectuals. He taught chemistry at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.,
spoke German and played the violin when he was not hybridizing peonies.  

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where severe storm warnings
are in effect throughout the night. 

My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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