Persian parrotia or Persian ironwood is a small upright tree or large, rounded, multi-stemmed shrub. Related to witch-hazel, the oblong green leaves turn various shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall, often persisting into the winter months. The mature bark exfoliates to patches of green, tan, and white.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- medium tree (25-40 feet),
- Small tree (15-25 feet),
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil
- Attractive bark
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter,
- mid fall,
- late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Tree & Plant Care
Tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Prune after flowering in spring.
Disease, pests, and problems
Japanese beetles are a potential problem.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Iran.
Bark color and texture
The bark of young trees is smooth and gray. Mature trees show a distinctly mottled bark with patches of white, gray and green.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
The simple, alternate leaves are 2 to 5 inches long. The upper third of the leaf is very coarsely toothed, while the lower two thirds of the leaf is entire. Overall, the leaf closely resembles the leaf of witchhazel. Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to a mix of yellow, red and orange.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
The flowers which emerge in spring have no petals and so usually do not get noticed.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
The fruit is a small capsule; not ornamentally important.
Cultivars and their differences
Persian Spire™ Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica 'JLColumnar'): A cultivar with an upright-oval form; 25 feet high by 10 feet wide. New leaves emerge purple and retain some purple tint throughout summer. Excellent fall color (orange, red and yellow).
Ruby Vase® Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica 'Inge's Ruby Vase'): A cultivar with a narrow-upright form; 30 feet high by 15 feet wide. New leaves emerge red. Fall color is orange-red.
Vanessa Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica 'Vanessa'): Vase-shaped cultivar; 30 feet high by 15 feet wide. Fall color is orange-red.