The Davidia Involucrata – “Handkerchief Tree”
2016 November 11
Created by roger leek on 17/01/2017
“The Handkerchief Tree” [botanical
name: Davidia Involucrata belongs to the Nyssaceae family] and is sometimes also
known as the “Dove Tree” or “Ghost Tree.” The seeds were collected in
Szechwan southwest China and first brought back to the UK for Kew Gardens by
Ernest ‘China’ Wilson c1901. The botanical name “Davidia” is after the French
missionary/ botanist Farther David who discovered it - and who was also the first
European to sight and report a Panada!
Our Davidia can be expected to
grow to a conical, ‘flame’ shape about 15m [50 feet] in height with a spread of
10m [30 feet], taking up to 50 years to reach full size.
The tree is deciduous with broad heart shaped leaves [perfumed and red purple in spring while young], turning dark
green with a ‘downy’ underside 16 cm [6 inches] on long on red stalks. When
mature the tree will in late Spring: April through June, produce large creamy white
‘bracts’ - pendants about 8 to 9 inches long beneath small, round male flower
that have purple-red Anthers. The leaves turn shades of purple, orange and yellow
in autumn. The bark ‘flakes’ and so the tree remains pleasant looking
throughout winter months too.
“The Handkerchief Tree” is self
fertile and seeds set easily, can be pot grown, taking about two years to
germinate and then about ten years to mature and produce the bracts. The seeds
are not poisonous to pets but the ovoid greenish-brown fruit has a taste very
unpleasant to humans.
The remarkable creamy white bracts flutter in the breeze like waving ladies handkerchiefs . . . hence the name. Some
people think that from a distance, these creamy white bracts can also look like
Doves roosting in the branches [. . . or, when seen under Moonlight, it seems
to ‘shake or tremble’].
What do you think?
Planted by the Birmingham & Solihull Group of the Motor Neurone
Disease Association from funds donated by people across Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton
Coldfield, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall and as far away as the USA and Australia.
In memory of all those forever with us “. . . too loved to ever be