Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree

Handkerchief Trees
  • From £59.99 (ex VAT)

This interesting small/medium sized tree is most well known for its astonishing, white, large bracts that hang like pinched handkerchiefs from its branches in May, hence the common name Handkerchief tree. The foliage is midsized, heart shaped and an attractive green colour, turning shades of orange and yellow in the winter. Young foliage is red/purple in the spring. Small, inedible pear shaped fruits are produced and in the spring the new foliage has a spicy, incense fragrance.

This tough ornamental tree will grow in most positions as long as it has moist, well drained soil and it is tolerant of pollution. Expect a height and spread of 6 x 4 metres in 20 years. It can take up to 10 years until this tree flowers but in our opinion it’s a very special tree and completely worth the wait!

A little bit of history for those interested! The plant hunters' search in the middle of the 19th century was most fiercely fought over this tree and it is named after a French missionary/botanist Father David (he was also the first European to report a sighting of a panda!). 37 seeds were sent back to France but only one tree grown from those seeds flowered. Horticultural practices improved in the following decades and in 1899 "Chinese" Wilson was sent on behalf of the Veith Nurseries of Exeter (on behalf of wealthy garden owners in Cornwall) to collect seed in China for commercial production.

AKA Davidia involucrata var. Vilmoriniana, Handkerchief tree, Pocket handkerchief tree, de Vilmorin handkerchief tree, Dove tree, Ghost tree

  • Common name: Handerkerchief tree
  • Awards: RHS Award of Garden Merit
  • Height and spread in 20 years: 6 x 4 meters
  • Seasons of interest: Spring, Autumn
  • Foliage: Heart-shaped green leaves turn orange and red in winter and emerges red/purple in spring
  • Soil: Prefers a moist, well-drained site any most soil types

Planting Advice for Davidia Involucrata Vilmoriniana trees

When planting Handerkerchief trees, it is important to prepare the planting area well. Pot grown Davidia trees can be planted at any time of the year. You will need to carry out the following to prepare your planting site.

Firstly, remove all weeds and grass within a metre of your desired planting hole then dig a hole as deep as your root mass and approximately 2x as wide. We recommend digging a square hole as this encourages the roots to grow straight as opposed to around, inside the hole. To help your tree establish more effectively, we advise applying root grow (sprinkle in the hole for pot grown trees), especially if you have poor soil. Gently loosen the roots and place into the planting hole.

If your soil is poor, mix 50% of the original soil with 50% high quality compost, fill in the hole and firm around gently. Make sure not to bank the soil up around the collar of the tree as this can cause problems.

We recommend planting any ornamental tree with a stake and tie, to see how to use a tree stake and tie, watch our informational how to videos.

Aftercare Advice for Handerkerchief trees

If you’re planting in dry weather, water well and regularly for the first few months. The same goes for spring and summer planting. Make sure to keep an eye on your young tree and increase watering if there are extended periods of hot or dry weather. If you’re planting in autumn, you may only need to water your tree a little. We also stock a range of irrigation kits, suitable for a variety of planting schemes.

Once planted, it is important to keep the area free of competing weeds and grass for the first couple of growing seasons. Using a glyphosate based weed killer or installing mulch matting and bark chips will aid in this. Do not simply mow the grass around the area as this will only encourage it to grow more vigorously. If you know your area is prone to rabbits, we would advise using a rabbit guard.

Pruning Advice for Davidia Involucrata Vilmoriniana trees

Dove trees do not require regular pruning. If you wish to tidy up your Gentleman's pocket handkerchief tree, do this during the dormant season. Focus on removing any damaged, diseased or overcrowded branches. If you require a clear trunk, remove any side shoots to help raise the crown.

Delivery Timescales

Most deliveries are made within a week of placing the order. All trees are carefully packed by our experienced team, with many despatched to our tried and tested couriers within 24 hours (please allow up to 10 days). There's no need to be in to receive your trees and you can request where they are left via the checkout.

There is a slightly longer timescale on pleached and mature trees (trees over 2.5m in height) because we group orders together by geographic area for specialist delivery - we will contact these customers to notify them of the delivery date and whether the delivery driver needs assistance.

Gift trees and those required by a specific date can be accommodated with pleasure, although we accept no legal responsibility for late deliveries.

Our nursery is a busy despatch centre, so please make an appointment to collect or view trees.  For collections, despatch charges will be refunded.

Delivery Costs

1 small tree (most trees with a height under 1.5 metres) : £7.95 + vat

1 medium tree (most trees 1.5-2 metres in height) or 2-4 small trees: £9.95 + vat

2+ medium trees or 5+ small trees: £12.95 + vat

1-4 large trees (trees too large to fit in a box): £19.95 + vat

Mature, pleached or 5+ large trees: Cost is calculated in the checkout process and varies by postcode. You can buy additional trees with no increase in delivery cost.

The above prices exclude the Scottish Highlands, where delivery starts from £24.95 + vat and is calculated in the checkout process.

Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Non Mainland UK

Our courier charges are not viable for just one or two trees, but if you have a larger requirement then please do speak to us to see if we can find a solution.

Below are definitions of various forms, which refer to the shape of the tree defined by the pruning it has received. For more advice, please contact us.

Single Stem / Pruned and shaped: Classic shaped tree with a single stem that has had pruning to help create a beautiful, natural shape.

Top grafted: A height noted next to this form refers to the length of clear stem, which will not grow taller. Only the head of branches will develop. Top grafted trees do not require complicated pruning and are ideal for small spaces.

Multi Stem: A multi stem tree is has two or more stems arising from or near ground level, growing from one root system. Take care to buy a true multi-stem like all ours and not those that are 3 saplings in a pot to cheaply imitate them.

Feathered: A feathered tree has branches from the bottom of the trunk all the way up. These branches can be removed if a clear stem is required.

Bush: A plant with many stems low down, rather than one clear stem.

Climber: A plant that is a natural climber and will be delivered usually running up a bamboo cane, ready to position in the garden.

Standard Tree: A more mature tree with an upright clear stem of approximately 1.8m-2.0m (measured from the soil to the lowest branch), which supports a branched crown. Standards are available in different forms relating to their girth size (circumference of the stem measured 1m above soil level), not height.

Standard  either 6-10cm or 8-10cm girth, approximately 2.5-3.0m in height
Premium Standard  10-12cm girth, approximately 3.0-3.5m in height
Heavy Standard  12-14cm girth, approximately 3.5-4.5m in height
Extra Heavy Standard 14-16cm girth approximately 4.0-6m in height

The product table below gives the sizes and forms offered for this variety, along with photos you can enlarge (these are only a guideline as all plants are unique so vary slightly).

Plant Specification Form Supplied Size Root typePrice Quantity Qty
Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree Form: Pruned & Shaped Tree Supplied Size: 150-200cm Root type: 10L pot Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree Price £59.99 (ex VAT)
Pruned & Shaped Tree 150-200cm 10L pot £59.99 (ex VAT)
Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree Form: Multi-stem Supplied Size: 200-250cm Root type: 45L pot Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree Price £249.99 (ex VAT)
Multi-stem 200-250cm 45L pot £249.99 (ex VAT)
Total: £0.00 (VAT Free)