The Parrotia persica is a beautiful tree with year-round interest, though it is perhaps at its finest in the fall, with colorful leaves in shades of gold, orange, and red. In winter, the Parrotia’s gray peeling bark gives it a textured appearance, and in early spring the tree blooms with attractive maroon flowers.
Parrotia persica is hardy to Zones 4-8 and is a wonderful addition to Pacific Northwest gardens.
Our tree is so spread out that people think it is two trees, but it is really just the one.
The Parrotia persica is a tough species that can tolerate drought, heat, wind, and cold, according to author Michael Dirr.*
The Parrotia reaches up to about 30 feet high and about as wide.
The cultivar ‘Vanessa’ also grows to about 30 feet high, but is not as wide, with a more upright columnar growth.
For the linguaphiles out there, one might think the name “Parrotia” refers to the bird, because of the colorful fall foliage. But the tree was named in honor of F. W. Parrot, a German naturalist who traveled in the Caucasus area in the early 1830s. “Persica” derives from the tree’s native habitat in Persia. The plant’s common name, “Persian ironwood,” derives from the fact that the wood is very close-grained, hard and strong.
Author Michael Dirr says: “I love this tree: the clean summer foliage; the yellows, oranges, and reds of autumn; the cream, green, gray, and brown exfoliating bark; and the small, maroon flowers that glow on a late-winter day. Over the years, my travels have led me to many parrotias, no two alike…”*
We love this tree too—so much so that we’ve added two new Parrotias to the garden—the ‘Vanessa’ variety this time—so we’re looking forward to the additional interest they will bring throughout the year, especially in the fall!
Do you have a Parrotia in your garden? What do you like best about this tree?
* from Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Michael A. DirrThis entry was posted on 09/22/2010 in Northwest Gardening Blog by PowellsWood