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Tree Trail Introduction - History Trail History-or-Tree-Trail? Index

The most noticeable feature of the  Dove tree (aka ‘Ghost Tree’ and ‘Handkerchief tree’) are the paper-like parts that might seem like flowers.  These are bracts  that highlight the flower to pollinators - in just the same way that the highly coloured parts of Bougainvaillea and Poinsettia are not flowers themselves.   A bract is simply a modified leaf with a flower or cluster of flowers in its axil.

Added to its significant visual appeal this distinctive plant also currently is the only member of its entire genus and takes its name in honour of Father Armand David, a French missionary  who first officially described the species  in 1869 after he saw the tree in Sichuan (Szechuan).

 In May 1888, an Irish plant-hunter Augustine Henry  

was riding his pony through a river valley [in Hubei, China] when he spotted a single, spectacular tree flowering near the base of a large cliff.  As he was later to relate, the scene was one of the strangest sights he ever witnessed in China. It seemed as though the branches had been draped in thousands of ghostly-white handkerchiefs.”  (O'Brien p. 79) from Seamus O'Brien's book, “In the Footsteps of Augustine Henry”

After Henry's description reached England,  Sir Henry Veitch sent the well know  E. H. “Chinese” Wilson;  one of the most productive of all plant-collectors - to China in 1899 with very precise instructions to bring back seeds of the handkerchief tree.  “…do not dissipate time, energy or money on anything else…” Veitch wrote in his contract with Wilson. Wilson eventually succeeded and was responsible for the introduction of the handkerchief tree to Europe

Read more at Our Breathing Planet: Dove Tree https://www.ourbreathingplanet.com/?p=29060

All the trees (and their positioning) on this tree trail have been discussed with arboreal specialists