One of the most attractive of the all flowering trees. The impact of this tree is not in its tiny flowers but in the large, white papery bracts that hang from the branches in late spring.

Family: Nyssaceae
Botanical Name: Davidia
Common Names: Handkerchief tree, ghost tree, Chinese dove-tree

Foliage: Deciduous, large green leaves with heavy veining and felted undersides.

Blossom: The tiny flower-heads are surrounded by two large white bracts. After flowering, large dark globular fruits appear, turning purple with age.

Flowering Period: May

Soil: Moist but well-drained fertile soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in any aspect in a sheltered location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Large shrub or medium-sized tree.

Origin: China

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Davidia

Plant in any good, well drained garden soil. Although slow growing it needs plenty of space to develop.

Note: cutting back a large tree that has outgrown its space can be costly and harm future growth, so ensure it is sited well.

Taking Care of Davidia

Thrives best when given some shelter from wind and strong sun in its early stages. Note: the flowers do not usually appear until about 10 years after planting.

Pruning Davidia

Initial pruning may be needed to promote a single-stemmed, tree-like shape. One established no further pruning is necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free.

Propagating Davidia

The large nut-like seeds can be sown after exposure to cold winter weather. Note: seeds may take 2 or 3 years to germinate. Alternatively, take half-ripe cuttings in late summer or layer branches of young plants. Hardwood cuttings can also be taken in late autumn.

Popular Varieties of Davidia

D. involucrata is the only species available in the UK.

Davidia involucrata is a shapely branched tree with bright green, lime-shaped leaves. The branches are covered in May with distinctive white handkerchief-like bracts. Height to 50ft (15m), spread to 33ft (10m). The popular form Vilmoriniana has smooth unfelted leaves.