Peonies and Ants

Peony, photo by Mary Warner, June 2015.
Peony, photo by Mary Warner, June 2015. If you look closely, there is an ant in the center right of this flower.

The peonies have been blooming in central Minnesota. When I see peonies in bloom, I think of ants. My mom told me that ants are needed to open peony flowers. How cool! A symbiotic relationship, like little sucker fish on bigger fish. But, it’s not necessarily true.

A little online research on a couple of websites (peonies.org and Iowa State University Extension) featuring an early-style web layout (which certainly helps date them) shows that peonies don’t *need* ants to open, but ants take full advantage of the nectar inside. So, not really a symbiotic relationship, but that’s okay. I still like these flowers with their giant droopy blooms. I wonder why I don’t see more of them in our area. Perhaps people can’t stand the ants.

Peony is an odd word. There are two ways to pronounce it. My mom always said “pee-OH-nee.” which is how I learned to say it, with stress on the long ‘O’. When my husband heard me say peony this way, he laughed. He pronounced it “PEE-uh-nee,” stress on the first syllable and the ‘O’ as “uh.”

How do you say “peony?”

Peonies, photo by Mary Warner, June 2015.
Peonies, photo by Mary Warner, June 2015.

2 thoughts on “Peonies and Ants”

  1. Mary,
    We have some very old pink peonies planted by hubby’s auntie. I hated that we never got to see them bloom. I put an ant trap under the bush last year and that was the first time we’ve seen the flowers without ants. I am trying that again this year to see if it works again.


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