Botanical Name: Parrotia persica
Common Name: Persian Parrotia
Locations: CSE, KN
Notable Feature: Very attractive, mature bark that exfoliates in patches revealing pale grays, tans, and greens. The mottled bark provides good winter interest.
Habit: Either a small, single-trunked, deciduous tree eventually growing 20 to 40 feet tall or a large, multi-stemmed shrub growing to 15 feet tall. Bark of mature trees exfoliates to show green, white or tan patches beneath.
Flower: The small, perfect (bisexual) flowers, lacking petals, have dense, red stamens surrounded by brownish bracts and appear in late winter to early spring before the foliage emerges. The ½-inch flowers are attractive on close inspection, but are generally considered to be ornamentally insignificant.
Fruit: Dry, woody, ½” long capsule splits when mature; contains one shiny brown seed.
Foliage: Reddish purple in spring, maturing to medium green in summer with good fall colors of red, yellow or maroon. The alternate, oval to oblong, wavy and toothed leaves are 3 to 5” long.
Interesting fact: This Iranian native is a member of the witch hazel family, which includes familiar woody plants such as Hamamelis (witch hazel), Corylopsis (winter hazel), and Fothergilla (witch alder). Parrotia was not named for the colorful tropical bird, but instead for Dr. F. W. Parrot, a German naturalist who in 1829 was the first European to climb Mount Ararat.