Davidia involucrata, also known as the handkerchief tree, was once considered to be the holy grail of exotic flora. In 1899 Kew-trained botanist Ernest Wilson was sent to the remote Yunnan region of China to find the tree, armed with only a hand-drawn map and some written instructions to guide him. After surviving a deadly illness and nearly drowning when his boat overturned, he finally found a specimen and was able to send seeds back to England in 1901. It has been grown at Kew ever since. You can find this particular specimen in the Woodland Garden.
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