Persian Ironwood

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Originating from Iran, this Persian Ironwood is situated in a patch of grass, between two other trees. While the tree may be small in width, it makes up for its narrow base with a plethora of branches, and orange leaves. The gray-green bark complements small flowering buds that reveal deep red flowers. This multi-branch shrub is an eye-catcher in the Marsh Botanical Garden, and should not be overlooked.
Astrid Hengartner, Kiki Lobben, Natalie Schoen
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Upright, Rounded, Multi-Branched
Date of tree entry: 
4.60 m
4.70 m
Diameter at breast height: 
14.50 m

The Persian Ironwood has attractive brown bark with pink hues that, when mature, sheds off to reveal smooth white and green bark underneath. The bark is rough and patterned, with whorls that peel off the tree. Our Persian Ironwood is still young, and in the winter of 2019, was not yet shedding.
Twigs & branches
The Persian Ironwood has multiple branches which split from the primary trunk early on, about 0.25 meters off the ground. The tree splits into 5 larger branches which grow upwards and split into their own offshoots. The smaller branches split off in a more horizontal orientation, giving the tree a fuller appearance, particularly when its foliage is fully active. From the branches spring brilliant leaves and dark red flowers, which adorn the entirety of the branches, but particularly the ends.
The deciduous leaves of this tree are shed seasonally. The veins are organized in a net-like structure with a primary vein and off-shooting smaller veins moving towards the edges of the leaf. The leaves are organized in an alternating pattern. The leaves are oviod in shape and have smooth yet wavy edges. In the summer they are brilliantly green and turn a magnificant red in the autumn. By winter, most of the leaves have fallen off, leaving bare branches.
Reproductive Structures
The Persian Ironwood produces flowers in late winter and early spring. They form before any leaves return to the tree, adorning the bare branches with small dark red flowers. The flowers do not have petals but consist of only sepals. They are small, averaging about 3 mm in diameter. By early April, the Persian Ironwood had formed a cluster of multiple red flower buds at the top of the tallest branches.
The fruit of the Persian Ironwood is a small, dark capsule that is not ornamentally important. Each flower forms one fruit. The fruit is made up of two capsules, each containing one seed. The fruit is not often eaten, and while we recommend appreciating the Persian Ironwood, perhaps do so with your eyes!
  • In the fall, the leaves of the Persian Ironwood turn a striking red-orange color, making it a tree often bought for ornamental purposes. Image source:
  • A closer look at the brililantly red-orange color of the fall leaves. Image source:
  • In the winter, a dedicious tree, the Persian Ironwood sheds all of its leaves, leaving bare branches. Image source:
  • In early spring, around February and March, deep red flowers bloom on the Persian Ironwood. Image source:
  • In the summer, the Persian Ironwood sports bright green leaves. Image source:
  • In the summer, the Persian Ironwood grows its leaves back and has a vibrant youthful green look. Image source:
Native to Iran, hardy to zone 5. Grows best in full sun. Prefers acidic soil.
Origin, history, and uses: 

Parrotia persica

The Parrotia persica, or the Persian Ironwood, is, as its name would suggest, native to Iran. Orginating from Iran and southern Azerbaijan, this tree is hardy and now commonly found in Western gardens. In particular, it is often found along the west coast throughout Washington, Oregon, and down to central California. It grows best at low elevations and is able to survive tough winters, hence its ability to thrive in New Haven. Due to its beautiful bark and brilliant fall colors, the Persian Ironwood is often planted for ornamental purposes in gardens and parks. 

A false cognate, its name, Parrotia persica, does not actually refer to the birds of paradise. Rather, the name originates from the nineteenth century naturalist, the German F.W. Parrot who named the tree in 1829 during an expedition to Mount Ararat, a mountain on the border of Iran, Armenia, and Turkey.

The parrotia persica is closely related to witch hazel trees, a group of flowering trees in the Hamamelis genus. While parrotia persica does not belong to this genus, it shares evolutionary roots with it. With hazel is known for its medicinal purposes; Persian Ironwood, on the otherhand, is not. The Persian Ironwood is largely planted for its ornamental appeal; it offers no medicinal uses and its fruit is not consumed by humans. However, the Persian Ironwood is a beautiful tree that adds diversity and beauty to its surrounding landscape.

Kingdom: Plantae Order: Saxifragales Family: Hamamelidaceae Genus: Parrotia Species: P. persica The Persian Ironwood is a flowering tree, meaning it is an angiosperm. It is a eudicot, meaning that its pollen has three openings instead of just one. Its status as an angiosperm and a eudocot means that is is well equipped with evolutionary advantages that allow the Persian Ironwood to grow and succeed in a range of environments.

Parrotia persica, Persian Parrotia, Ironwood - Plant Database - University of Connecticut. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from

Persian Ironwood. (2012, October 25). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from

Persian ironwood | The Morton Arboretum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2019, from…

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, March 26). Parrotia. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:15, April 23, 2019, from

Other information of interest: 

This tree is related to witch hazel, which has medicinal properties. 

The name “ironwood” stems from the tree’s legendarily strong timber!

Media and Arts

Persian Tree

You and Me


In my Childhood

I would play in your shade

As I drank lemonade

Persian Ironwood tree 

I appreciate thee.