Parrotia persica – or Persian Ironwood – is one of the fall foliage season’s best-kept secrets – and that’s a real shame. If you’d like to broaden your yard’s fall color palette beyond the usual flaming red maples, we’d highly recommend this tree!
In fact, Parrotia provides true four-season interest in the landscape. In late winter, tiny red flowers – similar to witch hazel flowers – appear, followed by bronzy-colored new leaves. As the leaves unfurl, they turn a rich green, providing a nice dense canopy of shade during the summer months.
Fall, though, is when Parrotias really begin to shine; putting a great show of color, with foliage turning shades of yellow, orange, and red. Even when the leaves drop, there’s still plenty to look at. As Parrotias mature, their bark begins to exfoliate; leaving dappled patches of color along the trunk.
A small to medium-sized shade tree, Parrotia will get between 20-30’ tall, and about 20’ wide. They’re generally unfussy trees and are tolerant of a wide variety of conditions, including clay soil and air pollution. Their compact size also makes them great street trees.
Looking for something narrower to fit into a small space? There are two varieties of Parrotia that will do the trick! Persian Spire gets about 25’ tall, and just 10’ wide; growing in a lovely upright, columnar shape. Vanessa is a bit larger: about 28’ by 14’, and was given an Award of Garden Excellence by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society in 2020.