Dove trees are prized for their white bracts (modified leaves) which adorn the tree in early June. These bracts surround small yellow flowers, and appear like handkerchiefs hanging amidst the green leaves. The cultivar in the park is the ‘Sonoma’, which is prized for its early flowering.
Native to southwestern China they can reach heights of 35 to 60 feet. Their heart-shaped leaves are green in summer, and vary from orange to red in the fall. The tree’s botanical name Davidia involucrata, comes from Father Armand David, a French missionary and naturalist that spent much of his life in China. David first discovered the tree in 1869, and sent clippings home to Paris. His discovery of the tree was overshadowed by the living panda he sent back with it.