Botanical Name: Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’
Alternate Name: Vanessa Persian Ironwood, Persian Ironwood ‘Vanessa’
Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ (Persian Ironwood) is a stunning tree that provides interest through the seasons. It is a cultivar of the species Parrotia persica or Persian parrotia. This tree is a slow-growing, small, columnar shaped deciduous tree with an upright, graceful growth habit. Its spread is much narrower than the species, making it a useful tree to plant in smaller landscapes.
Vanessa Persian Ironwood grows to a height of 15-40 feet with a spread of 10-20 feet. It is found growing on rocky slopes in the countries of Northern Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Southern Russia.
The leaves of Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ are large and oblong or oval in shape. They grow up to 4 inches long and emerge with a flush of vibrant orange and purple in the spring. In the summer, the leaves mature to a glossy medium or dark green. In the fall, ‘Vanessa’ lights up with a bright orange, yellow, and burgundy foliage display.
In late winter or early spring, the flowers emerge, providing a beautiful display of large drooping red flowers that contain many stamens but no petals. These flowers are similar to those of the Witch Hazel (Hamamelis), as Parrotia persica belongs to the same family – Hamamelidaceae.
The bark on mature trees exfoliates. As it sheds, it leaves behind interesting patches of white, green, and tan, contributing to this tree’s winter display.
Vanessa Persian Ironwood prefers full sun with moist, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil. However, this tree will grow in a wide range of soil types and pH. It will tolerate some urban pollution and drought conditions, making it suitable for planting as a street tree.
No serious disease or insect problems.