Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday's Trees- Parrotia Persica

Persian Ironwood or Parrotia persica is a nice tree for use in the urban setting.  The only specimen I have seen is the one that is in the York County Master Gardener's Learning Garden.  In the beginning I passed by this tree without paying it much notice.  That changed in the early spring/ late winter when this tree's blooms stopped me in my tracks.

This is a small to medium sized tree, not native to the US.  It is hardy zones 4-8 and is happy in sun to part shade.  The Parrotia persica is a member of the witch hazel family, looking at the leaves it is quite apparent.  The dark green, glossy leaves are obovate, with crenate to serrated edges. 

 It is a deciduous tree and its fall colors are striking....but unfortunately I have no photos of this tree in its fall glory.  From my reading the fall colors range from yellow to red to orange-brown....maybe ours was more in the brown range and it didn't jump out at me.  If anyone has a nice fall foliage photo of the Persian Ironwood, please let me know and we can  add it.
 This tree is classified as a medium sized tree.   Mature height is 20- 40 feet according to UNCONN and as it matures the bark exfoilates and it a nice feature.  It is recommended to limb the branches up to show off its bark.
Its branches are ascending and the overall shape is rounded.  As I said before it is a street that is very adaptable to urban conditions.  It is drought tolerant and a slow grower.  There is an old specimen in the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard.  This tree is over 100 years old and is 60 feet tall and 75 feet wide.  The article from the arboretum has quite a history of the cultivation of this tree.  It is a native of Iran, formerly Persia.  It was brought to North America in the early 1800's.  There are various cultivars in the market today, including a pendula form. 

Floridata is one of my references, as is Missouri Botanical GardenFine Gardening profiled this tree in one of its recent issues which helped spur me into getting back to sharing these trees with you.  Please check out these links for some more photos and infomation.

Next week's tree ---(in January, taking next week off) will be Yellowwood.

words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. Beautiful tree! I don't think I've seen one of these growing before. The form is so symmetrical, I am surprised it isn't a more popular yard tree.

  2. I agree Eliza, it is a tree that should be seen/used more in the landscape.

  3. Very nice shape to it. I've never seen one before. Merry Christmas to you!

  4. I wonder why it's not used more by landscapers? Drought tolerance has become a must for me. The last few years' shortage of rainfall have made me reconsider some of my garden plans.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for the visit!

  5. Tina, it does have a great shape. Will have to see if there are many in SC, I did see one at a garden center.

    Walk2write, I think any plants that can handle drought conditions should be looked at a second time.

  6. Wishing you & yours a very

    A beautiful tree. Will check out if it will survive here.

  7. hi Lola, thanks for visiting. Not sure where you are, but the tree is a zone 4-8. Hope it works for you.

  8. Hi Janet!
    You are definitely the "go-to-girl" for trees! I've never heard of this tree. It looks lovely.
    Hope you have a Merry Christmas in your beautiful new home and I look forward to watching your garden develop in the New Year.

  9. Dear Janet,
    thank you for showing a specimen that was till now unknown to me! I thought: looks a bit like witch hazel, but in red flowers. Trees have to be hard to survive these days! We had normal hazelnuts in our garden - beautiful (and nourishing) too. Does the parrotia have 'nuts'?
    I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and am looking foreward to your next post, which I always enjoy, thank you! Britta

  10. This tree is woefully underused. I push this tree and try to keep it in stock, but it is not a big seller. I guess people prefer the more familiar, or perhaps they are making a political statement.

    Merry first Christmas in the new house to you and your family.

  11. Hi Janet, great post - that's a lovely looking tree. As Tina said, great shape and those flowers are such a gorgeous colour. If it (usually) looks good in fall too it would make an excellent garden specimen if you have the space. Have a great Christmas, look forward to your posts in the New Year!

  12. I don't think I've actually seen this tree in person. I love the color of its flowers.

    I'm looking forward to your post on Yellowwood.

    Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas!

  13. Kathleen, the go-to girl eh? nice, thanks. Merry Christmas to you as well.

    Britta, I love hazelnuts, we had a bush near our house in Spardorf, the kids loved to eat them. The Parrotia doesn't have nuts as much as seeds. Merry Christmas to you too.

    Les, I think photos of this tree in bloom next to the trees in the nursery may help 'sell' it. Thanks, have a wonderful holiday as well.

    Janet, thanks, it is a great tree. Merry Christmas to you as well.

    sweetbay, the flowers are wonderful! I hope I do justice for the Yellowwood. Merry Christmas to you as well.


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