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.