What Do Peony Leaves Look Like – Identifying Your Plant

Close-up shot of a vibrant peony leaf in nature photography.Peonies are prized for their beautiful blooms, but identifying them by leaf type can be a challenge. These plants come in many different types, each with its own distinctive leaf pattern.

This blog post will serve as your go-to guide, providing clear descriptions and images to help you recognize peony leaves instantly. Stick around to unravel the mystery of these lush green appendages!

Key Takeaways

  • Peony leaves are thick and waxy, divided into three leaflets, and have a lackluster green color in tree peonies.
  • Different types of peonies include herbaceous peonies, tree peonies, and Itoh hybrid peonies.
  • Herbaceous peonies have large, glossy, much – divided leaves and impressive flowering periods.
  • Tree peonies have woody stems and deep green foliage that is easily distinguishable from other types of peonies.
  • Itoh hybrid peonies are a cross between tree and herbaceous varieties with attractive mounding plants and feathery silvery-green foliage.

Identifying Peony Leaves

Close-up of peonies leaves in a sunlit garden with cinematic feel.Peony leaves are thick and waxy, divided into three leaflets and have a lackluster green color in tree peonies.

Thick and waxy foliage

Peony leaves have a distinctive thick and waxy texture, especially in herbaceous varieties. This lush foliage not only adds aesthetic value to your garden but also acts as a protective barrier against disease.

The waxiness helps repel water, reducing the risk of fungal infections such as leaf blotch caused by Cladosporium paeoniae. However, excessive direct sunlight can cause damage like curling or yellowing on these leaves due to their sensitive nature.

Keeping them healthy assures an easy identification process for different peony species based on their micromorphological features.

Divided into three leaflets

Understanding the leaf structure of peonies is key to identifying the plant. Most noticeably, peony leaves are often divided into three leaflets – a characteristic that sets them apart from many other flowering plants.

The glossy and dark green leaflets range in size from 3 to 8 inches long, further contributing to this plant’s striking appearance.

Variations do occur among different types of peonies though. For instance, Paeonia qiui, a tree peony species, features leaves with up to nine leaflets. Regardless of their number, these leaflets lend an elegant dimensionality and depth to the overall foliage display which play part in what makes the Peony such a beloved garden staple.

Lackluster green color in tree peonies

Tree peonies are known for their magnificent bloom and distinct leaf color. A unique characteristic of tree peony leaves is the lackluster green coloration, which sets them apart from other types of peonies.

Unlike herbaceous peonies that showcase a vibrant dark green foliage, tree peonies have a more subdued, almost dull shade of green. This shade provides contrasting backdrop to its brightly colored flowers making them pop out even more in your garden space.

As autumn hints its arrival, these seemingly mundane leaves take on beautiful bronze and purple hues, adding an unexpected splash of color to your late season landscape.

Different Types of Peonies and Their Leaves

A vibrant bouquet of peonies in a rustic vase surrounded by leaves.Peonies are divided into three main types based on their plant type: herbaceous peonies, tree peonies, and Itoh hybrid peonies.

Herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies are a popular type of peony known for their large, glossy, much-divided leaves. These perennial plants can grow up to almost 1 meter in height and are long-lived, surviving for over 100 years.

They are slow-growing but rewarding, with brief but impressive flowering periods in late spring to early summer. Herbaceous peonies are one of the most easily grown hardy perennials available today, making them a low-maintenance option for gardeners.

With their beautiful foliage and stunning blooms, herbaceous peonies add elegance and charm to any garden or landscape.

Tree peonies

Tree peonies are a type of peony that have a permanent woody stem. They are native to China and have above-ground stems that stay throughout the year. Unlike herbaceous peonies, which have stems that die back to the ground every autumn, tree peonies are woody shrubs that can grow up to 10 feet high without support.

They have handsome foliage that is deep green in summer and their leaves can be easily distinguished from herbaceous peonies by their dissected three-pronged appearance. The flowers of tree peonies come in a variety of shapes, colors, and fragrances, and they are much larger compared to other peony varieties, with some reaching sizes of up to 7 or even 10 inches across.

Itoh hybrid peonies

Itoh hybrid peonies, also known as intersectional peonies, are a cross between tree and herbaceous peonies. These unique hybrids offer the best qualities and characteristics of both parent plants.

They grow into attractive mounding plants that can reach up to 3 feet in height and width. The foliage of Itoh peonies dies back in winter, leaving behind a low, woody framework. One of their standout features is their stunning foliage, which can be feathery and silvery-green in certain varieties.

Along with their vibrant and beautiful flowers, Itoh hybrid peonies have become a popular choice among gardeners for their unique traits and ability to thrive in various climates.

Characteristics of Peony Leaves

– Different peony varieties have unique bloom types and colors.

– Some peonies have feathery silvery-green foliage that adds to their appeal.

Read on to discover more fascinating characteristics of peony leaves!

Bloom type and color

Peony blooms come in a variety of types and colors, adding to the beauty and charm of these stunning flowers. From single blooms with delicate petals to double or bomb-shaped blossoms that are dense and full, there is a peony bloom for every preference.

The colors range from classic whites and pinks to vibrant reds, purples, and even yellow hues. With their large size, peony flowers can reach up to 10 inches wide depending on the variety.

Additionally, peonies are known for their highly fragrant nature, making them an irresistible addition to any garden or floral arrangement.

Feathery silvery-green foliage in certain varieties

Certain varieties of peonies have a unique and stunning featurefeathery silvery-green foliage. This type of foliage adds an extra layer of beauty and visual interest to the plant.

It stands out among other peony leaves with its delicate texture and silver hue, creating a striking contrast against the colorful blooms. So, if you come across peony leaves that are feathery and have this silvery-green color, you can be sure that you’ve stumbled upon one of these special varieties.


In conclusion, identifying your peony plant is made easier by examining its leaves. Peony leaves are generally thick and waxy, divided into three leaflets. Different types of peonies have distinctive leaf characteristics, such as the lackluster green color in tree peonies or the feathery silvery-green foliage in certain varieties.

By understanding these key features, you can confidently identify and appreciate the beauty of your peony plants.


1. How can I identify peony leaves?

Peony leaves are typically large and divided into smaller leaflets. They have a glossy green color and a smooth texture, with each leaflet having a pointed or rounded shape.

2. Do peony leaves change color throughout the year?

Yes, peony leaves can change color throughout the year. In spring and summer, they are usually a vibrant green color. As fall approaches, they may turn yellow or reddish before eventually dropping off in winter.

3. Can the shape of peony leaves vary between different varieties?

Yes, the shape of peony leaves can vary between different varieties. While most have deeply lobed or divided leaflets, some varieties may have more rounded or serrated edges.

4. Are there any unique characteristics to look for when identifying peony leaves?

One unique characteristic of peony leaves is their distinctive veining pattern, which often consists of prominent parallel veins extending from the main stem to the tips of the leaflets. Additionally, young emerging foliage may have a slightly burgundy tint before transitioning to its mature green coloration.