The genus name Paeonia comes from the Latin ‘paeon,’ meaning ‘physician of the gods.’ A perennial subshrub with large alternate leaves, this species is readily identified by its unusual flowers. They are yellow in the center and grow darker, sometimes even to a dark purple near the edges. The seeds are borne in thick-walled follicles that look like a small cluster of miniature, upright bananas in the center of each flower.
DISTRIBUTION: The species is typically found along dry slopes and in yellow pine forests in the Coastal Range and Sierra Nevada from Santa Clara to Tuolumme counties of California. It occurs between 900–2500 meters, and flowers in April and May.