Big Bracts
Monday, May 16, 2011 at 8:30AM
[chuck] in Cornaceae, Davidia, Science, bracts

The large Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana tree in flower next to my building is an interesting specimen. Interesting because Mabberly assigns the genus to the Nyssaceae, or Tupelo Family, while the signage here (see below) lists it as belonging to the Cornaceae, or Dogwood Family. [NOTE: The Nyssaceae is closely related to and often included in the Dogwood Family.]

This is also an interesting tree because of the striking, large white flowers that hang down and move in the wind like handkerchiefs or doves, both of which are common names for the tree (see above). Even more interesting because the large, up to 30 cm long, floral structures are not petals, but bracts, or specialized leaves. Dogwood flowers are also made of bracts. Finally, Davidia is of interest because of the strong, somewhat foul smelling fragrance that the flowers exude. [NOTE: Actually, I wish the tree had been planted a little further from my office.]  

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