Parrotia persica - Persian Ironwood

Origin and Distribution

Persian ironwood’s origin reaches from southwest Asia to North Iran and up to the Caspian Jungle. Nowadays it can be found all around the world as an ornamental tree in parks or gardens. 


The Persian ironwood can reach a height and width of 6 to 12 meters. Older trees are mostly wider than high. The huge shrubs or small trees are mostly multi-stemmed. Its main branches grow like a wide funnel with the younger sprouts spreading out wide. During its early years it grows rather slowly. In the later years the olive-brown bark starts peeling off decoratively. The deciduous tree has slightly leathery foliage with wavy margins and has a stunning autumn colouring.
The blossom starts in March even before the foliage begins to sprout. The Persian ironwood tree does not have specific demands on its habitat and can handle any nutritious and cultivated garden soil, however sunny locations with clay soil are most suitable. In its early youth the tree is rather sensitive, but it will get more and more resistant for frost and diseases while getting older. It prefers warm conditions and is also suitable for being planted in urban areas.

Interesting Facts

The wood of Persian ironwood has a very high density, making it impossible for the wood to float on water. Therefore it is called ironwood. Parrotia is named for the German naturalist Friedrich Parrot.

Garden Design

Its extraordinary shape, its stunning autumn and the smooth, patterned bark make the Persian ironwood tree one of the most beautiful ornamental trees for parks and larger private gardens. The tree needs enough space to develop well and is not suitable for small gardens. Solitary specimens in sunny areas with enough space will show the most impressive results. Sunny habitats also support the autumn colouring that varies from golden orange to rich purple and brilliant red. Evergreen plants underneath the tree can be an appealing contrast to these bright colours.