Davidia involucrata—The Dove Tree

Dove tree leaves
Davidia involucrata at the Arboretum

Dove Tree Seeds

We saw this amazing tree today at the Washington Park Arboretum.  I stopped by with one thought in mind—find Davidia involucrata, the Dove Tree or the Handkerchief Tree.  I knew that it flowered in the spring or summer and wanted to witness this wondrous sight.  We entered the visitors center and straight away asked where to find the Dove tree.  The receptionist disappeared into a back room and a nice man, somewhat jittery came out to help.  He pulled out a dusty, old volume with the binding all but falling away, looking as if it had been jostled in too many backpacks.  Inside were lists of numbers and columns, incomprehensible from my upside down view.  He said these volumes used to be for sale, but now they are few and badly need to be updated.  It was The List.  The List of every plant and it’s location in the Arboretum.  He quickly located three Dove Trees and informed us that they had already flowered.  (It’s not actually a flower, but the white leaf bracts hang down).  Noooooooo! I was devastated.  I had missed the flowering of the Dove Tree!!!  I was so disappointed, for it was one short month ago.  However, I quickly resolved to proceed regardless and enjoy the tree anyway.  Off we went, only 1/2 mile away we found the beautiful specimen pictured above. Even without the ‘doves’ it was worth the trip.  And I have something to look forward to next May.

Dove tree at the Arboretum December 2011