One of the Arboretum’s iconic tree species, the dove tree (Davidia involucrata), is now in bloom. The unique inflorescence of this Chinese species consists of two large, white, winglike bracts enclosing the base of a round, inch-wide, purplish brown capitulum (flower head), which is packed with dozens of male flowers and a single female flower. The white bracts lead to the tree’s common names, dove tree or handkerchief tree. There are two notable specimens of the dove tree in the Explorers Garden (both are the botanical variety D. involucrata var. vilmoriniana, the commonly cultivated type). Accession # 14473*A (from 1911) was collected in China by famed plant explorer Ernest H. Wilson, while the larger and more impressive specimen (accession # 5159*A, from 1904) was obtained by Charles S. Sargent as a rooted layer originating from a tree in France that was grown from seed wild-collected by Pére Farges. Another specimen (accession # 1636-83*B), grown from seed, can be found growing behind the lower section of the lilac collection.
–Nancy Rose, Editor of Arnoldia