Cornaceae (dogwood family) Davidia

Davidia involucrata dove tree

Davidia involucrata leaf. From Trees of Stanford and Environs, Ronald Bracewell

A small deciduous tree of handsome appearance with deep green toothed leaves to 6 inches, furry and paler underneath, with odor like mint. The small flowers do not depend on petals to advertise themselves but instead exhibit two large white drooping bracts in May, giving the appearance of nesting doves (to some); others, who use the name handkerchief tree, are reminded of laundry hanging on the line.

Visit those at the outside northeast courtyard of the Main Quad. In 1998 one appeared in the Inner Quad in the mulberry (outer northeast) island; three are on the east side of the Center for Integrated Systems. One in the lawn north of Mitchell Earth Sciences has died.

For the fascinating tale of the introduction of the dove tree to Europe see Elizabeth McClintock’s Trees of Golden Gate Park and San Francisco, Heyday Books, Berkeley, 2001.


The tree in the lawn north of Mitchell was near death, and removed. The young tree in the east lawn of Old Union, a bit drought stressed, eventually died. In 2005 one of the CIS specimens died. In spring 2007, two 8-foot high trees were planted facing one another between Moore and McCullough, at the west end; both died.

Illustrations: Cornaceae gallery.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the rather grim Updates section. Family updated from Nyssaceae to Cornaceae (Dec 2017, SP).