Looking for a tough little tree with interest in multiple seasons? Try the little-known Parrotia persica or Persian Ironwood. Two outstanding attributes are its exfoliating bark and exceptional fall color.
Smithsonian Gardens maintains Parrotias in the Freer Gallery of Art’s courtyard. The trees are pruned twice a year to maintain a sense of formality, but when grown in the landscape they require little or no pruning except the removal of dead branches. Hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 8, Persian Ironwood grows best in full sun to dappled shade. The fall color is best when situated in full sun and this durable tree for a small urban garden is drought tolerant once established. Have an even smaller plot of land to work with? Try the culivar ‘Vanessa.’ Its outstanding attributes include an upright columnar habit in addition to great fall color and exfoliating bark.
The Persian Ironwood is a deciduous tree in the Hamamelidaceae family that is native to Iran. It is named after the nineteenth century German naturalist F.W. Parrot.