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Found these growing in our flower bed of the home we recently purchased. I didn't really like how they looked, so I started ripping them out. Afterwards, I noticed some in other strategic places and thought maybe I had made a mistake.

enter image description here Learned earlier today that the stuff in the background is thistle. I'm interested in the stuff with the reddish stem.

enter image description here This is a picture of the root of one that I dug up.

enter image description here

The stuff growing in another portion of the yard is starting to develop bud at the end. I'm not sure what will come out of it though.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The leaves in the first picture make me think it's a Peony which would make it a good plant to have. A look at the buds on your other plants would help confirm it. This is a picture of one in my yard; notice the globe-shaped flower bud at top right held high above the leaves:

enter image description here

The shoots look like you have the herbaceous type, meaning that they die back every year, regrowing in the Spring. In the right conditions, the plants can live for a long time. Some varieties can be extremely fragrant, and with some the flowers can be so big and heavy that they need support either by staking the stems or with a peony cage. They can be spectacular when they flower as a quick image search will show (image from Wikipedia):

enter image description here

I don't think they like to be disturbed once they've settled into a spot, though, so the ones that you've pulled up may not do well for a while if you decide to replant them.

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That bud is definitely the same as the ones showing up other places. I hadn't planned to pull the ones that were growing as I wanted to see what they did, but in pulling the thistle, it was just too hard. Too bad I've probably lost those ones :( – mikeazo May 3 '12 at 11:08

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