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Unveiling the mystique of the dove tree: China's Living Fossil


 , Updated 16:27, 11-May-2024

It's that time of the year again. As spring transitions into early summer, the ethereal blossoms of a botanical relic are once again gracing parts of China.

Davidia involucrata, commonly known as the dove tree or handkerchief tree, holds a revered status as one of China's first-class protected plants. With origins dating back millions of years to the Tertiary period of the Cenozoic era, this botanical relic stands as a testament to the ancient past, earning its place among the nation's eight great botanical treasures. Renowned as a "living fossil" within the botanical realm, the dove tree is often hailed as the "pearl of the forest" and the "green panda."

What distinguishes the dove tree is its remarkable and elegant blossoms, which evoke imagery of a flock of doves perching on the tree branches. When in full bloom, its flowers boast a pristine white hue, resembling the outstretched wings of doves poised for flight. Hence, the tree aptly garners the moniker of the "dove tree." Doves symbolize peace, hope and love, and the resemblance of the plant to these serene creatures further solidifies its status as a harbinger of peace.

This botanical marvel stands as one of the most iconic living fossils in China, bearing witness to epochs long past. Enduring the ravages of the Quaternary glaciation, the dove tree faced extinction across vast swathes of the Earth, surviving only in pockets within present-day Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan, and Hubei provinces. Its ancient lineage bestows upon it immense biological and ecological significance, as it remains a living testament to bygone eras. The rarity of the dove tree lies not only in its resilience against harsh climates but also in its specialized habitat requirements. Thriving in cool, moist, and rainy mountainous environments, it favors acidic to neutral soils while shunning high temperatures and arid conditions.

With staggering abundance, Sichuan Province boasts over a hundred million dove trees, standing proudly as the foremost habitat for this magnificent species across the nation. The video shows a dove tree forest in Ebian Yi Autonomous County and Mabian Yi Autonomous County in Sichuan Province.

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