The Dove Tree, also called Handkerchief Tree or Ghost Tree

Native to China, handkerchief tree is considered to be the Holy Grail of exotic flora, and seeds were first sent to England by the legendary botanist Ernest Wilson in 1901. The dove tree is a deciduous tree that typically grows 20-40’ tall with a broad pyramidal habit. Red-anthered flowers in rounded clusters bloom in April-May. However the showy parts of the bloom are the large showy white bracts (one 3-4 inches long and the other 6-7 inches long) which subtend each flower cluster. The bracts flutter in the slightest breeze, and, from a distance, purportedly look like white doves sitting in the tree, hence the common name. Flowers are followed by round, greenish-brown, golf ball-sized fruits on 2-3” stems. 
The bright green leaves (3-6” long) are heart-shaped at the base. Variable fall color ranges from undistinguished dull pastels to bright oranges and reds. Other common names, all in reference to the unique flowers, include handkerchief tree, laundry tree and ghost tree. Genus honors Abbe Armand David, a French missionary to China from 1862-1873, who first described and collected the tree. This Tree is hardy Zone 5-8

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Anonymous said...

I have seen photos and read about them, but never actually seen one in the flesh, as it were!
Are they hardy ? They look far too exotic to be anything other than tender !!

Garden Medusa said...

Actually the tree is quite hardy (Zone 5-8). The reason it's so rare is that it takes quite a bit of patience to germinate the seeds

Hank said...

I have two ghost trees. I planted as saplings about 12 years ago. One has the most magnificent flowers ever this spring. The other almost never has a flower. Can anyone explain?