T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief tree)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Davidia
Species: D. involucrata
Binomial name: Davidia involucrata
Synonyms: Davidia laeta, Davidia tibetana, Davidia vilmoriniana, Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana, Davidia involucrata subsp. vilmoriniana
Common names: Handkerchief tree, Pocket handkerchief tree, Ghost tree, Dove tree,

Davidia involucrata is a deciduous fast growing tree up to 20 m tall, with bark lifting from the trunk in large flakes. It is native to South Central and Southwest China where it is listed as rare. It is the only member of the genus Davidia.
Its has deltoid, green leaves with serrated margins. Young leaves are scented.
D. involucrata flowers form a tight cluster about 1–2 cm across, reddish purple in colour, each flower head with a pair of large (12–30 cm), pure white bracts at the base performing the function of petals. These hang in long rows beneath the level branches. In New Zealand the flowers are at their best in spring. On a breezy day, the bracts flutter in the wind like white doves or pinched handkerchiefs, hence the English names for this tree.
The fruit is a very hard nut about 3 cm long surrounded by a green husk about 4 cm long by 3 cm wide, hanging on a 10 cm stalk. The nut contains 3-6 seeds.  

This 80 year old tree is growing in Tupare Gardens, New Plymouth, Taranaki.