Peace Offering

The rare and beautiful dove tree originally hails from China, but it can be a beautiful addition to a patient St. Louis gardener’s haven.


Information provided by Catherine Martin, Missouri Botanical Garden

Photography courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden


a.k.a. Davidia involucrata

Bloom time: Spring

Where to find it: Chinese Garden and the English Woodland Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The dove tree is a small- to medium-sized deciduous tree from the mountain forests of southwestern China. It typically reaches 40 feet tall and has a rounded to pyramidal canopy. The bark of mature specimens has a scaly texture and bronzy orange color, providing interest for the winter landscape. But this tree is most well-known for its spring blooms. The red-purple flowers hang from the branches, each surrounded by two showy, white bracts. The bracts have a thin, papery texture and will wave gently in the lightest spring breeze. The dangling blooms are said to resemble doves, giving this tree its common name. Other common names include handkerchief tree and ghost tree. Its stunning blooms are truly a special sight, as this tree can take 10 years to reach flowering maturity and may not produce a consistent floral display every year. For the patient St. Louis gardener, dove trees are worth the wait.