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Fall foliage fiesta! If you’re a fall color fanatic, then Vanessa Persian Parrotia is the tree for you. This uncommon ornamental tree will put on quite a show for you, turning rosy red, orange, gold, and sometimes purple over a long period. The leaves are striking in spring, too, emerging lime-green with a decorative maroon margin. Vanessa is a columnar selection that’s easier to integrate into smaller landscapes than the typical Parrotia. We grow Vanessa as a multi-trunked tree. You can use it as a leafy seasonal privacy screen, or “limb up” the branches to expose more of the bark, which exfoliates in charming patchwork patterns with age.
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. It was named after Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot, an explorer in the region where Persian Parrotia was discovered (northern Iran). Even though Parrotia is a fantastic tree, it has remained rather obscure, and few introductions have been made. Vanessa is one of those few special selections, made in the Netherlands in 1975. It was named after the Painted Lady butterfly, whose scientific name is Vanessa cardui.
Vanessa Persian Parrotia is somewhat of a connoisseur tree, but there’s no reason for such a marvelous tree to be such a well-kept secret! It’s easy to grow and should be planted more often. In fact, it’s so tough that the Society of Municipal Arborists voted it their 2014 Urban Tree of the Year.
How to Grow
Siting your Vanessa 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. Remove any suckers that may appear at the base of the plant. Pests and diseases rarely affect Vanessa Persian Parrotia, although Japanese beetles can occasionally be a problem where populations are intense.
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