The Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica), is a small deciduous tree or a large, multi-stemmed shrub. It is native to northern Iran and southern Azerbaijan and is named after the German surgeon, naturalist, explorer and mountain climber F. W Parrot (1792 -1841) who made the first European ascent of Mt Ararat, Turkey, in 1829. Like the Sycamore and London plane tree, the bark of mature trees is smooth light brown and flaking. The flowers are somewhat like those of a relative, the witch-hazel, but dark red. The leaves are alternate, ovoid, often slightly lop-sided with wavy margins; they emerge reddish-purple in spring, are glossy green in the summer, and turn a rich purple to brilliant red in autumn.
Common name: Persian ironwood
Scientific Name (family and order): Parrotia persica (DC.) C.A. Mey (Hamamelidaceae, Saxifragales)
Species Origin: Iran, East Caucasus
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported
Habit: 30 – 70 feet tall; equal in width. Dirr ( 2009) describes the tree as either a small, single stemmed tree or a large, multi-stemmed shrub.
Habitat: Zones 5 – 9. In drier areas the tree develops defined stems while in moist areas it branches at or near the ground level.
Trunk/Stem: The low branching makes passage under this tree difficult, Bark dark brown and smooth; it flakes off in patches to reveal fawn colored new bark (reminiscent of Pinus bungeana). Leaves have bronze-red margins when young. Wavy margins near tips.
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Alternate. Fall foliage is striking: yellow, orange, bronze, green; Shallow toothed leaf margin; ovate to elliptical; adaxial glossy bright green, abaxial dull green with hairs; on the leaf surface are scatted stellate pubescence, tiny silverhairs in clusters like stars. The leaf size and shape are similar to Hamamelis and Fothergilla
Flowers: Perfect. Flowers small, perfect, apetalous with red anthers. Small cluster of ruby red anthers appear out of brown velvety scales on bare branches in late winter.
Fruits and seeds: Fruit is a small 8 mm diameter 2-valved capsule in a tough brown tomentose husk up to ½ inch in diameter containing a single seed.