Herbs or soft-wooded shrubs with thick, tuberous roots. Leaves alternate, variously subdivided into several leaflets, often themselves lobed; stipules absent. Flowers regular, bisexual. Sepals 5. Petals 5-10 (cultivars sometimes double) becoming narrower towards the centre of the flower. Stamens numerous with the anthers opening by outward-facing slits. Carpels 1-8, free on a fleshy disk; ovules in a double row. Stigma thick. Fruit follicles with seeds changing from red to shiny black.
This family was once placed with Ranunculaceae but now considered more closely related to the Dilleniaceae.
Some medicinal uses.
1 genus of 32 species from north temperate regions mostly S and C Europe, China and NW America.
Source: (1997). Paeoniaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.