Field of Science

Disappointing fall color - Persian ironwood

A Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) was installed in our gardens about 14-15 months ago. It was decent sized, nicely shaped, and a reasonable price, so it seemed like a good idea. The tree has established itself in the medium back border of our lily pond, and looks handsome enough. Well, the fall color was pretty good this year, now most of the trees are pretty bare. Now some very cold weather is bearing down on us, so the fall color season will officially be over tonight. The Persian ironwood is still mostly green; only a few leaves are showing any sign of changing. In the same family as witch hazel and Fothergilla, Hamamelidaceae, the Persian ironwood is mostly planted for its fall color, and it's still green! What's up with that? Hard to say. The tree has plenty of flower buds, so it will flower in late winter/very early spring, right along with the witch hazels, but let's just say that in comparison the witch hazels put on quite a flowering display. The flowers are similar, but Persian ironwood lacks a corolla/petals although the anthers are red and a bit conspicuous, but not so much as Fothergilla. The fall has been so mild, perhaps a good hard frost was needed earlier to get things going. The genus is a nice example of an honorific name honoring Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot, a German naturalist.

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