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The Dove Tree
'To my mind Davidia involucrata is at once the most interesting and beautiful of all trees of the north-temperate flora…
The flowers and their attendant bracts are pendulous on fairly long stalks, and when stirred by the slightest breeze they resemble huge Butterflies hovering amongst the trees.'
Grown as a specimen, this tree commands attention. The small pom-pom like blooms appear in mid-spring and are held between two uneven, pure white bracts that are up to 15cm (6in) long. The bright to dark green leaves are roughly heart-shaped (cordate) and lightly serrated around the edges. The leaves of the species are white tomentose underneath, which appears as a fine white felt on the undersides of the leaves. The fruit, a 3cm (1in) drupe, ripens in the late autumn. There is a deeply ridged nutlet inside, and within the nutlet there may be up to ten seeds.
The Genus currently contains only one species and was named in honour of Père Armand David, one of the most prolific of the French missionary plant explorers.
The subspecies D. involucrata subsp. vilmoriniana is the most commonly cultivated, differing from the species type with the undersides of its leaves being pale green to grey and lacking the felt-like tomentum. It is often sold or distributed as D. involucrata.
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