Tree peony 'Joseph Rock'

ebsterAugust 11, 2005

I have read about this great tree peony 'Joseph Rock'

(large single white flower w/ purple blotch in the middle,

very fragrant). It's been frustrating trying to

track the plant down. At first, I thought it's a

species and that it will come true from seed. Then

I learned the plant and seed are unavailable, and

that what people sell are close but not the real thing.

Can any one offer any helpful insight? I'll appreciate

any info ie, if anyone tried to grow it from seed and the

result, if anyone has one and from what the source.

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shiao(6a Boston)

Joseph Rock was an American otanist/adventurer of the early 20th century who went to northwestern China and "discovered" a certainly wildly growing species of peonia. He brought it back to the US and the hybrids of these original set are now called the peonia Rockii. In fact, many cultivars have been established by the Chinese in the far western province of Gansu. The white flower variety that you are refering to is, I believe, either "Xue Hai Dan Xin (or "Compassionate") or He Ping Lian (or "Peace Lotus). Both are tall shrubs (over 7 feet ful grown) and absolutely beautiful and strong, and very resistant to mildew and other afflictions of peonies.

You can get these variety sent to you either from Cricket Hill Nursery or Golden Port International. I have just ordered two variety of these Peonia Rockii from Golden Port International recently.

I dont know about the seeds, but the two places mentioned above sell 6 year old plants with multiple stems to be shipped in the fall...I wouldnt know the first thing about germinating peony seeds....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:39PM
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shiao(6a Boston)

for you...here is the address. good luck, Shiao

ttp://www.pinerise.com/seeds/

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:58PM
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azngrnthumbs

Hello,

I firmly believe that what is sold as 'Joseph Rock' is not one specific clone propagated vegetatively. You could almost call it a strain, which is simply a group of plants grown from seed that resemble one another.

The 'Joseph Rock' I have varies considerably from my friend's "JR", but both have large, single/semi-double flowers with a deep purple blotch in the center and they are incredibly FRAGRANT!

As far as sources, expect to pay no less than $100 for a mature, quality plant of Paeonia rockii. Growing it from seed will take several years until it reaches flowering size, of course, but if you order from a reliable seed source, you can be sure that you'll be getting the classic white form with the purple center (how much purple will certainly vary).

Here are two growers that list Paonia rockii/'Joseph Rock':

www.songsparrow.com
www.reathsnursery.com

Best of luck! I hope you get a chance to grow this beauty. It is an absolute treasure in the garden!

Cheers,

Riz

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 9:41PM
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ebster

Thank you all for your very useful information.

Riz, how are your 'Joseph Rock' different from your
friend's? Also, did you and your friend buy the plant or
was the plants from seeds? Chiltern has seeds that
match the flower description but no mention of
fragrance.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 12:53PM
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azngrnthumbs

Hi,

My friend purchased her plant several years ago and saved up for this single purchase! It might have been seed grown or a division off another plant, I'm not sure. Her plants have slightly larger flowers with a more pronounced purle blotch that opened fully before the petals fell off. When I first saw her plant, it was already fairly well established whereas mine is only in its third year in my garden. Mine, while still spectacular, is slightly smaller, seems to have more petals and it doesn't fully expand as much as hers before the flower fades. I'm not sure if this is just attributed to age, however.

In terms of plant habit, mine is, of course, still considered young whereas hers is about 6' in height with multiple "trunks" that are spaced apart giving a open shrub look that's about 7 feet wide. Really stunning!

Hope that helps. Are you considering getting one?? Gosh, I'd sure love to get my hands on some more if I could afford it!

Cheers,

R

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 4:39PM
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maifleur01

You might consider some of the rockii hybrids that some of the nurseries are selling at more reasonable prices. I think that you will find several of the hybrids around $30.00 which is better than $150+. Have you considered pollenating and raising your own from the seed of the existing plant?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 11:23PM
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ebster

I started gardening just a couple of years ago. It
is now so full of plants that I have limited space
to plant all the tons of things on my list. I decided
that maybe I should only plant the very best. I read
about 'Joseph Rock', its huge and fragrant flowers,
and decided to get one. But the more I research into
it, the more I am convinced that I probably can't get
the real one. So I thought, I can either spend $150+ and
get one close to it, or I can buy seeds and wait 5+
years and see what I get.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 12:40PM
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maifleur01

The problem with seeds is that unless they are hand pollenated then covered to prevent chance pollenization and even then you are growing a chance product of breeding.

Think of it as your family tree. You come from your parents but they come from their parents. Any children you may have may not look like you but your spouse's third cousin twice removed great-great grand parent. The only real way of getting a Joseph Rock to to raise one by cuttings. That way you have a part of that plant growing. That said many of the plants grown as Joseph Rock are hybrids and may or may not be the plant you want. The real plants that were brought back from Tibet were probably lost long ago. No one can be sure. Some sources have stated that all the plants in England were destroyed in WWII and the plant at the lamestary sp was destroyed before that. Look at www.paeo.de at the library for further information.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 3:06PM
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ebster

Maifleur,

Thanks for your info. I think I might go w/ a
hybrid one. Where could you purchase one for ~$30.00.
All the ones I saw are $50+.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 11:29AM
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maifleur01

Pacific Rim has them paste this url http://www.hillkeep.ca/ts%20paeonia.htm

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 4:22PM
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ebster

So far I have written to Golden Port and Pacific Rim.
They were both very prompt in their reply. I was
very impressed by Pacific Rim. Paige gave such detailed
reply to all of my questions!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:12AM
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azngrnthumbs

ebster,

Could you share with us more information about this plant from what Pacific Rim said. I'm curious about their plants and sources!

Thanks,

R

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 9:35PM
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ebster

AznGrnThumbs,

Sorry about the late reply - the kids were sick and
I didn't check my mail for a few days. Here's what
Paige from Pacific Rim wrote. I did get her permission
to post this:

>> >> I will do my best to answer your questions.
>> >>
>> >> 1. Plants from seed are never identical to one
>> >> parent. They have the traits
>> >> of both parents. As with people, so with plants.
>>:-)
>> >>
>> >> 2. I'm guessing that you want to know whether our
>> >> plants look like the true
>> >> species Paeonia rockii -- white single flower
>> with
>> >> a big purple blotch in
>> >> the middle. Yes, they do.
>> >>
>> >> 3. The age of the plants varies. Usually the
>> 1-gal
>> >> are up to 2 years old and
>> >> the 2-gal are up to 4 years old. We move them up
>> >> when they need to be
>> >> repotted. Some grow a little faster than others.
>> >>
>> >> 4. The plants typically flower in 5-8 years. It
>> >> depends on growing
>> >> conditions. 6 years is about usual.
>> >>
>> >> 5. I dislike talking about 'Joseph Rock' because
>> the
>> >> name has been so often
>> >> misapplied to plants that are NOT 'Joseph Rock',
>> I
>> >> can't be sure what plant
>> >> you mean.
>> >> What I mean by 'Joseph Rock' is a plant that
>> >> descends directly, by
>> >> divisions, from the plant brought from the Jone
>> >> (Choni) Lamasery in Gansu by
>> >> Joseph Rock himself.
>> >> It is a large and relatively coarse plant. I
>> don't
>> >> know whether it is pure
>> >> Paeonia rockii or not. It has leaves that look
>> like
>> >> either rockii var.
>> >> rockii or a cross of that variety by P.
>> suffruticosa
>> >> -- a very common cross
>> >> in Chinese breeding of purple-blotch peonies. The
>> >> flowers of 'Joseph Rock'
>> >> have a purple blotch that is good-sized yet not
>> as
>> >> "generous" as that of
>> >> some other cultivars. Plants very similar to
>> 'Joseph
>> >> Rock' in foliage were
>> >> growing at the Jone lamasery when I visited it
>> last
>> >> spring, but they were
>> >> not yet blooming. A Chinese botanist friend who
>> >> specializes in peonies said
>> >> that he thinks they are rockii x suffruticosa.
>> >>
>> >> 6. I rarely see our plants bloom -- they are sold
>> >> when younger. The rockiis
>> >> in our garden, which are from the same stock,
>> have
>> >> all proved true, however.
>> >> And no customer has ever complained to us that a
>> >> plant was untrue. This is
>> >> all I can tell you for sure.
>> >>
>> >> 7. The rockiis we have on hand at the moment are
>> of
>> >> two persuasions.
>> >>
>> >> a. from seeds collected by Josef Halda, who said
>> >> they came from Gansu
>> >> Province in China. These have foliage like rockii
>> >> var. rockii.
>> >> b. hand-pollinated, original plants from seeds
>> >> collected wild on Mt. Taibai
>> >> in China. These have narrower, more widely spaced
>> >> foliage like the plants
>> >> known until recently as rockii var.
>> taibaishanica.
>> >>
>> >> Without going out to count, I am not sure how
>> many
>> >> we have left of each. We
>> >> are nearing the end of this year's available
>> plants,
>> >> though.
>> >>
>> >> 8. For your information, we plan to offer some
>> >> famous Chinese rockii
>> >> cultivars soon (no, I don't know when exactly)
>> that
>> >> are very beautiful and
>> >> not necessarily pure rockii, though they always
>> >> inherit their purple blotch
>> >> from rockii. Meanwhile, the plants we offer are,
>> as
>> >> far as we know, pure
>> >> rockii.
>> >>
>> >> 9. No, I'm sorry, we don't have seeds for sale.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 5:55PM
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shiao(6a Boston)

From what Paige at pacific stated, it seems to me that it would be very hard to get the original "pure" J Rock variety. In fact, the Chinese have hybridized the Rockii with many other cultivars to make some very attractive varieties. The ones closest to a pure white is the Compassionate, the Peace Lotus and the "White snow surrounds a pure heart" variety. I will be getting a Peace lotus this fall from Golden Port, as well as the Purple Butterfly in the wind, another type of Rockii hybrid. It seems that Paige has essentially the same hybrid rockiis as the other dealers of good quality tree peonies.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 7:45PM
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unserpast_gmail_com

I know they exist but are VERY RARE. Fern Leaf Peonies that are any color other than red. I know of white and pink for sure; there may be other colors. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Mike

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 2:58AM
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