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A connoisseur tree for first-time tree stewards! You may not be familiar with Persian Parrotia, but avid gardeners know it well and love it for its many charms. This elegant ornamental stands out for its stellar fall foliage. No two trees are alike. Some turn a glowing butterscotch yellow, some are more orange, and some become a crazy quilt of purple, red, orange, gold, and hot pink. Interesting red flowers in late winter and exfoliating patchwork bark add to Parrotia’s appeal. The funny thing is, there’s no reason for this unique tree to be rare—it’s a cinch to grow. Give it a try!
- Hardiness Zone: 4-8
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You might assume that Parrotia was given its name because its fall foliage can be as colorful as a parrot’s feathers. However, that’s not the case. The tree was discovered in northern Iran (the only place it grows in the wild) in 1840 by a Russian botanist named Karl Anton von Meyer. Meyer named it in honor of a fellow explorer and college classmate, Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot. Friedrich “Fritz” Parrot was best known for being the first Westerner to ascend Mt. Ararat in Turkey. Mt. Ararat is where Noah’s Ark supposedly came to rest. Parrot found no evidence of the ark, but thought perhaps it was hidden under the thick ice.
Persian Parrotia is often described as a small tree, but it actually has the potential to get quite large. Under ideal conditions, it can reach more than 60 feet tall and wide. Give it room to grow. Parrotia is also considered a slow grower, but it can be a moderately fast-growing tree with proper irrigation and fertilizer, at least in its younger years.
How to Grow
Siting your Persian Parrotia in full sun will encourage the brightest colors in its fall foliage, but this tree will grow happily in part shade as well. Plant it in any soil with decent drainage. Regular irrigation is important during the first year or two of establishment; our Elements™ Watering System will help you deliver the right amount of moisture. Feed with Elements™ Fertilizer for optimum growth. Persian Parrotia tends to be naturally low-branched, but we have trained it into a tree form at the nursery. Be sure to promptly prune off suckers that appear from the base or trunk if you wish to maintain this form.
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