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Pocket Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata)Pocket Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata)

Pocket Handkerchief Trees

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The details

Delivered in Large Sizes
  • AKA Dove Tree
  • White flowering bracts Apr-Jun
  • Well drained, fertile soil
  • Max. Height: 12m
  • Delivery: Year round
  • RHS Award of Garden Merit
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£ 34.98

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Davidia involucrata - Pocket Handkerchief Trees

Davidia involucrata also known as the Pocket Handkerchief, Dove, Laundry, or Ghost Tree, is a slow-growing, medium-sized deciduous tree with fresh green foliage.
Its actual flowers are fairly insignificant yellowish balls less than 1" across, but they are framed by a remarkable pair of cream-coloured bracts which can be up to 8-9" long: a remarkable sight in late spring, looking for all the world as if it is covered in ladies' handkerchiefs. 

Given sufficient room, Davidia makes a wonderful specimen tree. It is straight growing, spreads well from the base giving it a "flame" shape and carries glossy, mid-dark green leaves that are perfumed when young.
The mature bark is flaky, giving it a pleasing appearance in winter. 

In the UK it reaches up to 12 metres, taking about 50 years, so it is a suitable tree for small(ish) gardens
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  • AKA Dove, Ghost or Laundry Tree
  • White flowering bracts Apr-Jun
  • Well drained, fertile soil
  • Max. Height: 12m
  • Delivery: Year round
  • RHS Award of Garden Merit

Growing Davidia

It grows best in moist but well drained, fertile soil. Alkaline soil is fine, but it does not like solid chalk.
It is largely pest and disease free, and it is not poisonous to livestock. The fruit is said to be favoured by flying foxes, but tastes disgusting.

Its pleasing and uniform shape works well planted away from other trees as a feature or a small parkland tree; if space is at a premium, it is also happy in a mixed tree planting.
It is self-fertile and sets seed readily. Trees grown from seed take 10-15 years to flower in ideal conditions.

Did You Know?

The genus Davidia is named after Père Armand David, and involucrata means "rolled inwards", referring to the shape of the white flower bracts.

Chinese in origin, its seed was collected and brought back to the UK by Ernest Wilson during a collecting trip for Kew Gardens in 1901.
It was such a hit at Kew that the Times advertised its imminent flowering, and to this day Kew still has probably the finest specimen in the UK, along with the gardens at Hergest Croft on the Welsh borders.