After reading this identification question, I remembered we had peonies in our back yard when I was a kid. I noticed a lot of ants would congregate on the plants and was worried they would destroy them. I talked to my Mom about it. She told me they shared a symbiotic relationship and to leave the ants alone.

Is this true? If so, what is this symbiotic relationship about?

2 Answers 2


Some varieties of paeony do attract ants, on the flower buds particularly. The buds excrete a type of sap that the ants find attractive and which they consume - once the flowers open, the ants disappear. It was once thought that the ants' activities on the buds were essential to their being able to open, but that myth has been debunked, they open with or without the presence of ants. They don't cause any harm, so its not necessary to try to get rid of them, but may be something some people might want to do.


It is a symbiotic relationship. The peony produces nectar from unopened buds that ants love to eat, much like Bamboo says. There are a few species of plants that produce nectar outside of their flowers to tempt ants to live nearby. In many of those species ants will feed on the nectar and while they are at it they will attack any other animals that might damage the plant by feeding on it.

So, the ants get an easy meal and the peony gets a dedicated team of bodyguards to keep their flowers from being eaten.


  • Citation needed.
    – kreemoweet
    May 6, 2022 at 3:01

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