Parrotia persica - Parrotia, also called Persian Ironwood
Family - Hamamelidaceae
Size - To 20 to 30 feet with upright ascending branches. Width is about 2/3rds the height. Supposedly there are some variations with horizontally spreading branches. I have grown it as both a multistemmed or single trunked tree.
Foliage - Alternate, simple, 2 to 4 inches long, emerges a reddish-purple changing to a lustrous medium to dark green. Once you see it, if you know your plants, there's no mistaking that it's in the same family as Hamamelis or Fothergilla. Fall colors are oranges, yellows and scarlets. It has nice fall color but I don't think it is as outstanding as it is raved about, at least I haven't seen it here. I have several other Parrotia planted on campus now that have different microclimates so it will be interesting to see how they fair over the years.
Flower/Fruit/Seed - Relatively inconspicuos and emerge early, often getting nipped by late freezes. Small, about 1/4 inch across with crimson stamens. If you're not looking for them, you'll miss it.
Bark - I wish I had a better picture because this doesn't do justice by any stretch of the imagination. I'll replace this one ASAP! When I took this picture the tree was 1 season from the bark starting to exfoliate. It began to finally exfoliate this season (1998). Gray, green, white and cinnamon tones predominate. The exfoliating bark is the more ornamental feature of the tree. Be patient, it could take as much as 10 years to begin this characteristic.
Pests and Diseases - I acquired the first Parrotia on campus in 1990 and there have been no insect or disease problems. Trees do tend to get that 'stressed out look' in summer heat when located in full afternoon sun though. I later purchased some lining out material in 1994 from Don Shadow which he called, "Parrotia - European selection". I asked if this was a variety which was supposed to have more horizontal branching habit since I had heard that trees in Europe had tended to this shape, he told me that it didn't have the canker problem that was showing up on the regular Parrotia. Whether it does have any problem or not I don't know, I haven't seen any problem with canker to this day. Maybe Don just wanted to get rid of some extra Parrotias? Don had a field full the last time I was there so maybe that's the case. ;-)
Landscape Use - Can be used as a specimen or accent tree. Should be located in a position so that the exfoliated trunk of the tree is observable in the winter.
Performance - 9 Overall it is a excellent tree, however I believe a site (at least in the south) which gives morning sun and afternoon part shade in the summer with sufficient moisture will give the best results. Hardy to zone 4.