Content Detail

Persian parrotia or Persian ironwood is a small upright tree or large, rounded, multi-stemmed shrub. It is 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.

  • Family (English) Witch Hazel
  • Family (botanic) Hamamelidaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Mature height 20-40 feet
  • Mature width 15-30 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well No
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Persian ironwood is 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 witch-hazel. Leaves are dark green in summer, changing to a mix of yellow, red, and orange.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The flowers emerge in spring, but have no petals and aren’t very noticeable. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a small capsule which is not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

Persian ironwood is tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Prune after flowering in spring.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Japanese beetles are a potential problem.

Persian Spire™ Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica ‘JLColumnar’):

A cultivar with an upright-oval form, growing 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, reaching 30 feet high by 15 feet wide. New leaves emerge red and fall color is orange-red.

Vanessa Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’):

This vase-shaped cultivar is 30 feet high by 15 feet wide with an orange-red fall color.


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