City Trees

March/April 2013

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TREE OF MERIT Parrotia persica 'Vanessa' T he Persian Ironwood Tree (Parrotia persica) has been featured in City Trees before, for good reason: it is a great tree for urban areas! While it is native to the lower mountain slopes of northern Iran, it has been planted widely in cities across Europe and North America for many years. It has great colour in the spring, with glossy, green, red-tipped leaves that later turn a darker green through the summer. Fall colour is spectacular, often with leaves of multiple colours on the tree at the same time: orange, purple, yellow and green. When older, this tree has flaky grey bark that is very attractive, giving it year-round appeal. The cultivar 'Vanessa' emerged from Europe in the 1970s and is now widely cultivated in North American nurseries. 'Vanessa' is upright, almost columnar, with branches that arch gracefully outward towards the tip. It is a slow-growing small tree, reaching a height of about 11 metres (36 feet) at maturity. Perhaps because of its slow growth rate, it seems that much of the available nursery stock is slightly smaller than would be typical for street tree planting programs. City arborists repor t that 'Vanessa' has few pest problems, is drought tolerant, can be grown in a wide variety of soils, and is hardy in USDA zones 4-8. Steve Shur tz, urban forester and landscape manager for Baton Rouge, Louisiana says, "I love it; it's not bothered by drought nor long wet spells. No sign of pests. Just a neat, well'Vanessa' on the streets of Surrey, British Columbia by Owen Croy

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