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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.

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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 8 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:

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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):

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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
    
+1, very nice answer! –  bstpierre May 3 '12 at 11:47
    
That is what it looked like to me as well +1 –  Grady Player May 5 '12 at 2:46
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