The Handkerchief Tree

Inside Belgrave Hall Gardens...

Published: 9 June 2020

Handkerchief tree in Belgrave Hall Gardens

The Davidia involucrate, more commonly known as the handkerchief tree or dove tree, was discovered in China by Pere David in 1869 and introduced to the UK in 1904. This handkerchief tree is in the gardens at Belgrave hall in Leicester.

The tree’s flowers are made up of two white ‘bracts’, a type of specialised leaf rather than an actual petal, surrounding a purple flower head. Though fast growing, it can take up to 15 to 20 years before the handkerchief flowers

When the first UK trees began to flower in Kew Gardens, notices were placed in The Times and thousand of visitors flocked to see them.

While the year of planting for the handkerchief tree at Belgrave Hall isn’t known, it has been estimated to be up to 100 years old. The only way to tell the exact age of the tree would be to count the ring in its trunk. As this would require cutting down the tree to find out, we’re happy to stick with the age estimate so we can continue to enjoy its beautiful and unusual flowers.