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Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana Tree

Handkerchief Trees
  • £69.99 (ex VAT)
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Davidia involucrata Vilmoriniana is most well known for its astonishing large, white bracts that hang like pinched handkerchiefs from its branches in May, hence the common name of Handkerchief tree. These can be followed by small, inedible pear shaped fruits. The attractive, heart shaped foliage emerges purple-green and has a spicy, incense fragrance. Green in summer, the leaves turn shades of orange and yellow in autumn.

This interesting small/medium sized ornamental tree will grow to a height and spread of 6 x 4 metres in 20 years. It's a tough tree, being tolerant of pollution and growing in most positions as long as it has moist, well drained soil. Whilst it can take up to 10 years until this tree flowers, we think it’s 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 to collect seed in China for commercial production.

AKA Davidia involucrata var. Vilmoriniana, Handkerchief tree, Dove tree

  • Common name: Handkerchief 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 leaves emerge purple, turn green in summer and orange-red in autumn
  • Soil: Prefers a moist, well-drained site any most soil types

Planting Advice for Davidia Involucrata Vilmoriniana trees

Pot grown Handerkerchief  trees can be planted at any time of the year. Prepare the area well before planting them by carrying out the following.

First, remove weeds and grass within a metre of your desired planting hole. Dig a hole as deep as the root mass and approximately twice 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, apply root grow (sprinkle in the hole for pot grown trees).

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 spring, summer or dry weather, water well and regularly for the first few months. 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.

Covid-19: We're pleased to announce that we are back up and running in line with government advice. We have a bit of a backlog of orders and are catching up as we write. Please expect a slightly longer lead time of around 2 – 3 weeks (excludes pre-order and mature trees). Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Delivery Costs

1 small tree (most trees under 1.5 metres in height) : £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 trees delivered by pallet (inc. mature Japanese Maples): £19.95 + vat

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

Mature and pleached trees or orders too large for pallet: Cost is calculated in the checkout process and varies by postcode rather than quantity (starts from £48 + vat).

Northern Ireland 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.

Delivery Timescales

All trees are carefully packed by our experienced team and most are delivered within 10 days of placing the order. There's no need to be in to receive your order and you can request where it is 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 for specialist delivery - we will contact these customers to notify them of the delivery date.

Trees on pre-order are still growing and an estimate of when they will be ready is given on the basket page. Orders will be despatched when all trees are ready.

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.

The product table at the bottom of the page gives the forms and sizes available for this variety. Please note, photos are a guideline as all plants are unique. Below are definitions of terms:

Supplied Size: Height measured from the top of the pot.

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.

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.

Multi Stem: A multi stem tree has two or more stems arising from or near ground level, growing from one root system.

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

Clump: Several plants in one pot that can give the appearance of a multi stemmed and very bushy tree.

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 branches of the 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

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