Shrub to 0.8 m. Leaves glabrous. Lower leaves biternate, with 9 leaflets; terminal leaflets obovate-deltoid, 8–10 × 7–9 cm, 3- or 5-lobed at least halfway to the base; lateral leaflets ovate, 4–7 × 2–4.5 cm, entire or shallowly lobed. Flowers solitary, terminal, with 2–6 glabrous bracts; sepals 4–5, glabrous, with caudate apex, 3–3.5 × 2–3 cm; petals 9 or 10, rose, broadly obovate with rounded apex, 5–6 × 4–6 cm; filaments purple, anthers yellow; disc entirely enveloping carpels at anthesis, purple; stigmas purple. (Hong 2010, 2011)
Distribution China W. Henan (extinct in the wild)
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
This pink-flowered woody peony is known from a single plant in Songxian County, Henan. It grows beside the house of Yang Hui-Fang, who dug it from the wild on a nearby mountain around 1961; far from being just another obscure hybrid, it has been concluded that it represents a species now extinct in the wild (Hong 2010, 2011). It is horticulturally significant only because molecular studies reveal it to have been an important parent of hybrid woody peonies. Of 47 traditional Chinese cultivars investigated by Zhou et al. (2014), 35 shared the chloroplast genotype of P. cathayana, suggesting that they were descended from this species down the maternal line; nuclear genes from P. cathayana were also detected in some hybrids.