Paenoia sterniana is a herbaceous peony first collected in the Tsangpo Valley in south-east Tibet at an altitude of 3000m. It bears solitary flowers in white, with very delicate petals. This peony is very rare in cultivation. It produces blue seeds in autumn.
Herbs perennial, to 90 cm tall, glabrous throughout. Roots thick, attenuate toward tip, to 30 × 1.4 cm. Proximal leaves 2-ternate; leaflets decurrent at base; terminal leaflets segmented, segments again segmented; lateral leaflets unequally 2-segmented, segments linear-oblong or lanceolate, 5--12 × 1--2.5 cm, base cuneate, margin entire or often lobed, apex acuminate; segments and lobes up to 40. Flowers solitary, terminal, single, 8--10 cm wide, sometimes underdeveloped flower buds also present in axils of distal leaves. Bracts 3 or 4, leaflike, unequal. Sepals 3 or 4, ovate-orbicular or orbicular, 2--2.5 × 1.5--2 cm, apex mostly caudate.Petals white or pale pink, obovate, ca. 3.5 × 2 cm. Filaments yellow.