Grown as a specimen, this tree commands attention. The small pom-pom like blooms appear in mid-spring and are held between two uneven, pure white bracts that are up to 15cm (6in) long. The bright to dark green leaves are roughly heart-shaped (cordate) and lightly serrated around the edges. The leaves of the species are white tomentose underneath, which appears as a fine white felt on the undersides of the leaves. The fruit, a 3cm (1in) drupe, ripens in the late autumn. There is a deeply ridged nutlet inside, and within the nutlet there may be up to ten seeds.
Prefers moist, well drained soil.
Davidia involucrata usually placed in the tupelo family (Nyssaceae), but is sometimes included (with the tupelos) in the dogwood family (Cornaceae), and by yet others given family status of its own, as Davidiaceae.