Davidia involucrata

dove tree

handkerchief tree

Outstanding Qualities

Davidia involucrata is truly enchanting in full flower -- so much so that its reputation led the great plant explorer E.H. Wilson (1876 to 1930) to travel for two years in China to find it and collect its seed. In late May and early June, it is draped with 7-inch-long white bracts that enclose its smaller flowers. Handkerchiefs, doves -- these dramatic blossoms have earned it such evocative common names. Seedling-grown plants of this species may take ten years to begin flowering. If you can find it, buy the cultivar 'Sonoma', which begins blooming at about age two. Otherwise, plant the species as it is just as beautiful. Dove tree's cinnamon-colored bark provides winter interest. Plant dove tree with rhododendrons, Japanese maples and shade-loving perennials.

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, burgundy, chartreuse

Great Color Partners: cream, dark green, silver

Culture Notes

Dove tree prefers well-drained soils, but will tolerate sandy or clay soil with adequate drainage. The best flowering will develop in full sun to light or open shade. Occasional watering is appreciated during dry weather. Seedling grown plants are slow to flower, allow ten to twelve years from a seedling to the first flowers.

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Quick Facts

Plant Type: tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 to 8

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light or open shade

Water Requirements: occasional