Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive
This series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens is compiled by members of the Friends group and Gardens staff. We aim to build up to a comprehensive archive of trees in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Each article illustrates a tree growing in Belfast Botanic Gardens together with information from a range of sources. Where possible we will give the tree tag number - these are the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Davidia is a medium sized tree reaching 20 to 25m, usually with a rather spreading shape. It bears clusters of small reddish flowers without petals and sepals within a pair of spectacular large white bracts that function as petals. It flowers in May. The fruit is a very hard nut about the size of a small walnut that normally contains 3 to 6 seeds. The seeds are said to be hard to germinate.
It was first found in 1869 and described by Pére Armand David (1826-1900) after whom it is named. It was later re-found in the wild by Augustine Henry and eventually introduced to Europe and North America in 1904 by Ernest Wilson. It gained an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Davidia will usually only flower after 10 to 20 years; the specimen in Belfast Botanic Gardens is still young, but this year (2019) produced three flowers. The photos of flowers below were taken in the Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor in Northern Ireland
The Davidia genus has a single species and belongs to the Cornaceae family (it had previously been placed in the Nyssaceae family along with, among others, Nyssa the tupelo of which the Botanic Gardens has an example.