Five species of Wild Peony grow in Serbia and all of them are strictly protected. Due to negligent collecting, peonies have now become a rarity. In order to protect this species, the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, an IUCN member, has started a project focusing on the study and habitat mapping of the Wild Peony in Serbia, on public awareness raising on the importance of this species conservation and ultimately on the protection of its habitats in the country.
The peony genus (Paeonia) is the only of the family Paeoniaceae which includes 33 species distributed in the northern Earth hemisphere. Peonies are perennial herbaceous or semi-woody plants with underground thickened stem tubers. Leaves are two-, triply- or multiply-sectioned and are alternately arranged. Flowers are large, terminal, single, vivid red-pink colored, and half-symmetrical. They flower in spring from March till May and are among the largest flowers in Serbian flora. The fruit is a follicle with numerous large seeds.
The five species of Wild Peony that are found in Serbia are:
European Peony; Common Peony (Paeonia officinalis subsp. officinalis)
It can be found on several sites in Serbia. Its habitats are bright oak forests, open spaces in beech forests, groves and rocky hillsides.
Banatic Peony (Paeonia officinalis subsp. banatica)
Critically endangered and its only known habitat is the Special Nature Reserve Deliblato sand.
Narrow-leaved Peony; Fern Leaf Peony (Paeonia tenuifolia)
It is present in the Special Nature Reserve Deliblato, as well as on the hills of southern Serbia and in the east of country. Its typical habitats are dry, sandy, grass-steppe landscapes, limestone open habitats and sinkholes.
Male Peony; Balkan Peony (Paeonia corallina)
It can be found in eastern and central Serbia, on sunny shrubbery slopes and sunny spots in the forests.
Kosovian Peony (Paeonia decora)
The most distributed of all peony species in Serbia; its habitats are forest slopes, bright sunny oak forests and clearings.