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Until September 2003 I thought the best Parrotia in the US was either at the Biltmore Estate or the Arnold Arboretum. This old, majestic, and utterly shocking tree at the Maymont Foundation Gardens in Richmond, Virginia is like comparing a Parrot to a sparrow for aesthetic beauty. I'll confess to saying "Holy #@$%' when first walking into it's medusa-like, semi-fused and clustered base. Out came the 12.1 megapixel, shooting it a dozen ways with and without flash in all combinations of shutter and aperture.

As with most Parrotia persica, most people walk by the wide-spreading and thick canopy of ordinary leaves, never discovering the beauty within. This is part of the species' illusive and hidden charm. It rewards the casual, thorough, and informed visitor to the garden and gives nothing to the distracted, bored, and hurried guest. One needs to have an educated eye or desire to walk up to every single old tree to truly know a garden. Trees like this reward one's slow, steady way of learning from a grand arboretum.

This Maymont masterpiece is so far above the other examples with it's bold and sharply contrasting sectors, I'm recommending it be propagated and cloned as a species replacement cultivar.  It appears to be older than the original Biltmore tree, the source of much modern stock in US gardens. However, as the small limbs are richly exfoliating and patterned, one may assume young trees of this clone would present themselves with early appeal.

Compare to the photos of the 'Biltmore' clone in it's original tree below.

Click both images to enlarge.



Parrotia persica 'Biltmore'

The original Parrotia persica 'Biltmore' at the famous and majestic grounds of the Biltmore Estate and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. This fine old plant is the basis for numerous others distributed around arboreta and nurseries around the world.

Click the above images to enlarge.



ha: multi-stemmed, low-branched, globose with age, eventually a wide-spreading pyramid
bk: greyish-brown, exfoliating in modertion, less bold and contrasting the Maymont tree shown above.
lc: reddish-purple new leaves becoming glossy green - possibly superior to
lc: random seedlings.
afc: yellow, red, purple, and orange shades - reliable in many areas
or: named for a superior individual tree at Biltmore Gardens, Asheville NC USA. See photos above.
Elk Mountain

Parrotia persica 'Burgundy' (6/02)

lc: new growth purple, that is a burgundy color
afc: "superior"
so, or:
Junker Nurseries (online catalog 2002)

Parrotia persica 'Lamplighter' (*V)

ha: slower than species typical growth.
lc: blades sectoried white up to 70% of surface area
afc: red
source, photo:
Junker Nursery

Parrotia persica 'Pendula'

ha: weeping, usually stiffly so. Forms a mound that is wider than high
ht: 6 ft. tall x 10 ft. wide
afc: same bright colors as the species
Forest Farm

Parrotia persica 'Purpleleaf' ('Purpleleaf Form' invalid)

lc: purplish foliage by one report. 'Biltmore' has reddish-purple new growth
lc: and 'Select' of Greer Gardens release has purplish margins.

Parrotia persica 'Ruby Vase' ('Inge's Ruby Vase')

ht: 20 ft. tall x 10 ft. wide
ha: upright, vase-shaped
bk: exfoliating (typical?)
lc: ruby red new growth
afc: red
in: Specimen Trees Wholesale Ltd. 2001
li: COPF. 2001. New plants column. COPF News 13(1): 3 + color photo

Parrotia persica 'Select' (provisional invalid name)

lc: "well defined purple margin" in spring and early summer
li: Greer Gardens Catalog 1997: 59.

Parrotia persica 'Vanessa'

ha: more upright branching, nearly columnar when young but widening with time.
Arrowhead Alpines
Forest Farm