Plant of the Month

Parrotia persica - February 2017

Parrotia persica K Keeton
Parrotia persica K Keeton
Parrotia persica
Area A - Four Seasons Gardens
©K. Keeton

Although the Parrotia is grown mainly for its spectacular autumn colour, it is equally interesting to discover at this time of year. It would be so easy to just pass it by it, but if you look very closely the whole plant is covered in the most unusual clusters of small dark red flowers, which give the still leafless branches, a hazy effect of red, which is particularly pleasing on a sunny day. Mature plants also have a flaky bark.

Parrotia persica also known as the Persian Ironwood, is a large spreading deciduous shrub or tree, originating from the forest region south and south-west of the Caspian Sea, It was introduced to Kew from St. Petersburg in 1841.

There are a few specimens of this plant throughout the Garden, but the one showing its full beauty is situated in the Four Seasons Garden (area A), found along the pathway behind the Glass Pavilions. This particular plant is more like a tree.

Another variety of this plant Parrotia persica ‘Pendula’ may be found on the lawn on Birch Hill (area E). This form has pendent branches, slowly developing into a dome-shaped mound 3 metres high. Unfortunately you have to look very closely to find flowers on this particular plant.

Parrotia persica K Keeton

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