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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Parrotia persica - Persian Parrotia

A rather unusual tree here and for that matter elsewhere. It never really seems to catch on anywhere. Too bad, it has a nice shape though variable, with beautiful fall color and potentially nicely colored leaves in the spring. Its also drought tolerant. You have to love a tree that's common name is the scientific name in reverse. Shows how little it's used.

The Persian Parrotia is potentially a large tree but usually remains small to medium sized, around 20-40' with an irregular shape. They may be rounded or with upright ascending branches. These two shown below are located at Westonbirt Arboretum in the UK. The evergreen trees between the two are Calocedrus decurrens.



This is the one in my old yard in Spokane, showing the incredible variety of fall colors.



This is the foliage of the one on High Drive.





Leaves are very attractive, alternate, oval to obovate, 2-4" with distinct stipules at the base of the petiole. Upper half of the leaf has serrations while the lower half is more or less entire. Leaf sort of looks like witch hazel leaves. New growth in the spring is a light soft green and can have an intense purple margin like the one shown.



This one below is from my garden in Spokane, and maybe I should have propagated it for the leaf colors, I didn't realize that was not that common.



Flowers are quite interesting but often not seen or even overlooked. They are red and this image shows them fully open!



Fruit is a capsule.



Stems are pubescent, brown to gray. Buds are scaled and both types (flower and vegetative) are stalked.





One of the coolest things about this tree is the trunk. The branches seem to grow in any direction they choose, and often run into each other. I saw many old trees in England where the stems were grafting to one another.



Misidentification: Really cant think of anything, the leaves are pretty distinct.

Locations:
Aptos:
420 Clubhouse Drive. While you are there you will see a white flowered redbud, a Michelia yunnanensis, an Azara microphylla 'Variegata' among other plants in a nicely landscaped yard.

Santa Cruz :
ProBuild Nursery planted along River St.
304 Goss right along the street
941 High St are 2 of the nicest ones I have seen.

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