Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’

Persian ironwood

  • © Guy Meacham

Outstanding Qualities

Vanessa' is a selection of Persian ironwood that develops a more upright, columnar habit than the species. This durable tree is beautiful in every season, as its foliage, branch structure and bark are all exceptional. Its leaves are oval shaped with somewhat scalloped edges. They emerge green edged with burgundy, maturing to midgreen in summer. In late August, they begin their sensational autumn display, turning bronze, then crimson, followed by orange and finishing brilliant gold. This show goes on into October. Its branching habit is irregular, providing an eye-catching change from most shrubs and trees. In winter, when its exfoliating grey-and-tan bark is revealed, this picturesque tree makes a dramatic feature. Its tiny, spidery, red flowers are produced in late winter and early spring, before the leaves. Although it is related to witchhazels, its flowers are not fragrant. Underplant it with epimediums, Helleborus x hybridus and any spring-flowering bulbs. Its autumn foliage can be complemented with Actaea simplex [Atropurpurea Group] 'Brunette', Aster lateriflorus 'Prince', Crocosmia 'Lucifer', Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy', Penstemon 'Black Bird' and Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 40 ft. 0 in. (12.19 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 20 ft. 0 in. (6.10 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Flower Color: red

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to dappled shade

Water Requirements: drought tolerant when established

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, silver, burgundy

Great Color Partners: dark green, blue

Culture Notes
This durable tree will grow well in full sun to dappled shade. The fall color is best with more sun. It will grow best in well-drained soil, but it is tolerant of moist sites, sand and clay. Once established it is drought tolerant. Little pruning is needed to maintain its shape, only remove dead, broken or poorly formed limbs.