Japanese and Chinese Tree Peonies
The difference between these two popular peonies is how they have been bred over 100s of years. Chinese and Japanese growers have concentrated on different aspects of the flower. So although they some from mostly the same species, the hybridisation has taken the two types in different directions. The Japanese tree peonies are sought after for the large flowers, they flower in mid to late spring and have large deeply divided foliage.
Flower types are usually single of semi double and they are bred for flower size and color. Japanese peonies are also bred to be more upright in habit, fewer side shoots and longer stemmed flowers. Peonies are actually the national flower of China, they are said to symbolise nobility and beauty, especially female beauty. So we can see why the Chinese breed them for flower form, rather than flower size.
The interesting fact is that no peonies are actually native to Japan, however they have been instrumental in breeding them for many years.
The Japanese also imported both and American and European hybrids as well, so a little confusion exists when it comes to names. For example the popular Alice Harding has the Japanese name of Kinko. Souvenir do Professuer Maxime Cornu is named Kinshi and L'Esperance is Kintei.