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 forgotten.”