This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(after Armand David, French missionary, botanized in China from 1862 to 1873). Nyssacese. Ornamental deciduous trees, cultivated for their handsome foliage and the large and showy white flowers.
Leaves alternate, slender-petioled, dentate, without stipules: flowers polygamous, in dense subglobose heads consisting of numerous staminate flowers and 1 bisexual flower, with 2 large bracts at the base; sepals and petals wanting; stamens 1-7, with slender filaments; ovary 6-10-celled, with rudimentary perianth and a circle of short stamens on top of the ovary at the base of the short and thick style, with spreading stigmas: fruit a drupe with a 3-5-seeded stone. - One species in W. China.
This is a handsome tree of pyramidal habit, with rather large and attractive bright green foliage, and an object of striking beauty when studded with the very large creamy white floral bracts. The tree has proved hardy in favorable positions as far north as Massachusetts; it seems to be somewhat tender only while young. Apparently it grows well in any good fresh soil. Propagation is by seeds sown in spring, which soon germinate, and by cuttings in summer of half-ripened wood under glass; also by layers.
Baill. Pyramidal tree, to 60 ft., with upright or ascending branches: leaves cordate-novate, acuminate, coarsely serrate, strongly veined, bright green and finally glabrous above, densely silky pubescent below, 2 1/4-5 in. long: heads terminal, peduncled; bracts 2, opposite, rarely 3, ovate to oblong-obovate, entire or serrate, creamy white, of unequal size, the larger to 7 in. long and to 4 1/4in. broad: drupe oblong-ovoid, brownish, punctulate, about 1 l/2 in. long. May, June: fruit in Oct. W. China. variety Vilmoriniana, Hemsl. (D. Vilmoriniana, Dode. D. Ikta, Dode). Leaves glabrous and glaucescent below, or only sparingly pubescent while young. B.M. 8432. H.I. 20:1961. G.C.III. 33:235; 39:346. J.H.S. 1903:57; 37:129, fig. 113. R.H. 1906, pp. 297-9; 1907, p. 321. R.B. 34:230. This variety is better known in cult, than the type. It was introduced in 1897 by Farges who sent seeds from which a single plant was raised by Vilmorin. Later E. H. Wilson sent seeds of the variety as well as the type, from which a large stock of plants was raised by Veitch. Alfred Rehder.