Parrotia persica- Growing Parrotia (Persian Ironwood)

Parrotia persica, a tree with colorful fall foliage and interesting exfoliating bark on Persian parrotia (Persian ironwood) varieties.Find out how to grow and care for Parrotia with valuable facts and information.

"Parrotia persica"

Fall foliage of Parrotia persica

Growing Parrotia

Parrotia persica is a deciduous tree with a rounded form and medium texture. Parrotia grows best in Zones 5-8 and will grow 20-40’ h x 15-30’ w. The bark exfoliates on old branches (4-8” in diameter) to reveal a gray, green, white, and brown mosaic of color. The leaves unfold reddish purple when young, maturing to a lustrous dark green through the summer, then finally putting on a brilliant fall display of various hues of vivid yellow, burnt orange, and deep, pure scarlet.

The flowers on parrotia persica appear before the leaves in spring and will have no petals, just a profusion of relatively inconspicuous deep crimson stamens. Fruits are not set in abundance and are of little consequence. This tough tree is tolerant of many landscape conditions, including drought, heat, wind, and cold. It prefers well-drained, loamy, slightly acid soil in full sun, but it will tolerate higher pH and light shade.

The best fall color is produced on specimens growing in acid soil in full sun. There may be some twig dieback in colder parts of its range.  The Persian ironwood tree performs best in Zones 6 and 7. It makes an excellent small lawn or street tree. It can also be used as a foundation plant near a large house. It is a striking accent plant, especially when it’s older and the bark is exfoliating. Parrotia persica varieties can be grown in a container or in an above ground planters in urban areas. The character of the trunk and bark can be displayed year round by removing lower branches and foliage.


Exfoliating bark of parrotia

"Persian Ironwood"

Persian ironwood flowers

Care of Parrotia Varieties

Transplant small balled-and-burlapped or container grown specimens in early spring. Large trees are difficult to transplant. Give newly planted specimens an inch of water a week.

Mature plants are drought tolerant. Apply plant food or an organic alternative such as fish emulsion in early spring and water it in well.

Pruning should be done in the spring. The bark is easily damaged by lawn mowers and string trimmers. To protect lawn trees, surround them with a 2-4” layer of organic mulch such as wood chips or shredded bark.

Propagation: Sow seeds in fall. Cuttings can be taken in midsummer.

Japanese beetles can be a minor pest problem, otherwise, there are no serious threats to the tree.

Related Species

‘Pendula’ has pendulous branches and grows 5’-6’ tall and 10’ wide.

‘Ruby Vase’ is more narrow than the species and grows 20’ high by  10’ wide, with the ruby-red foliage persisting into the fall.

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