Mystery Tree

We received a lovely tree donation to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden; something we were all unfamiliar with. We were told it was a Dove, or Davida Tree.

Without lifting someone else’s photo I can’t show you a Dove Tree, but needless to say it has leaves like a Dogwood and each flower has two bracts which look like petals. They hang in long rows, resembling handkerchiefs or little ghosts. They bloom in spring.

Having no experience with a Dove tree, we took the donor’s word for it, even though the leaves looked nothing like a Dogwood. Then it started blooming…in August! Time to do a little more research.

Tree identifier sites are wonderful, if you haven’t forgotten all of your high school botany.
Simple or compound leaves?
Lobed or unlobed?
Palmately or pinnately lobed?
Back to school!

Our mystery tree has double-lobed, long, heart-shaped leaves – like a very droopy valentine, or headless bunny ears.

It’s flowers have elegant, delicate, white stamens and petals.

A bit of searching finally turned up Orchid Tree; something not often seen in Northern California. It is apparently native to China and India, but can be found in Southern California and a few other, mostly southern states. It is supposed to be hardy to Zone 8b, so it just makes our area.

The tree can grow in moist, well drained, clay, loam, or sandy soils, under slightly acidic conditions. It will work well in our garden if we ensure it is watered regularly. It grows well in full sun or in partial shade with late afternoon shade beneficial to its blooms. We have just the spot as you enter by way of Ina’s Cottage Garden – where the shed’s shadow will give it a much-needed respite late in the day.

We’ll have to prune it to ensure it has a strong, balanced shape as it grows – but what a beauty it will be and a perfect tribute to the Memorial Garden. Mystery solved…with gratitude to its donor!