Forest 62 - Dove Tree

Davidia involucrate

Davidia involucrata leave bracts and flowers Photo not from the Arboretum Davidia involucrata leaves Photo not from the Arboretum

Other common names

Handkerchief tree, Pocket handkerchief tree.

Origin of the species name

Davidia is named after the French missionary, Pere Armand David; involucrate refers to the ring of bracts surrounding the flowers.



Date planted

June 2012


Trees of this species take 20-50 years to reach maturity.

Davidia involucrata fruit Photo from the Arboretum

General description

This is a deciduous tree with a broad conical crown, rounding with age. The bark on the trunk becomes scaly and orange brown. The leaves are ovate to heart-shaped. It is best known for its flowers which hang in long rows beneath the level branches, but the conspicuous white 'flower' is actually a bract and the true flowers are in a central cluster, like dogwoods. The fruit is a very hard nut about 3cm long. Height  20m Spread 15m.

Natural distribution and habitat

The species is native to central and southwest China where it occurs in small pure stands scattered over a fairly wide range in broadleaved forest between 1,000 and 2,200m.

Conservation status

Although it is not classified internationally as being threatened, it is regarded as endangered in China. It was once widely distributed in China, however, its distribution area has shrunk rapidly due to the changes in the ecological and geological environment, over-exploitation and destruction of forest habitat.

Planting pattern

Planted in curved lines, mostly along steep contours.


It is a valuable and widely used ornamental tree. The species was first introduced into Europe and North America in 1904 and its attractive white bracts made it popular for planting in public parks and gardens.