Botanical Name: Gingko biloba
Common Name: Gingko
Notable Feature: Undoubtedly one of the most distinct and beautiful of all deciduous trees with its unique, fan-shaped leaves that turn a stunning yellow color in the fall. Branches have noticeable short, spur-like shoots.
Habit: A deciduous, slow-growing conifer, pyramidal in youth that can become wide-spreading with age consisting of a few, large branches. Matures to 25 to 50 feet high with a spread of 25 to 35 feet.
Flower: Dioecious (male and female flowers are borne on separate trees). Male flowers are green and appear in 1-inch long catkins. Female flowers appear as two ovules (not enclosed in an ovary) that are borne on 1- to 2-inch long stalks, and after pollination in mid spring one or both develop into seeds. Trees may take 20 years to bloom; both male and female trees may morph into the opposite sex.
Fruit: Not a true fruit but a naked seed; 1” long, tan, and plum-shaped with a fleshy covering that develops a strong, unpleasant odor when it drops to the ground. The inner hard seed is edible, maturing in the fall after the first frost. Because of the mess and odor associated with the fruit of the female tree, it has been recommended to plant only male specimens.
Foliage: Highly distinctive, two- to three-lobed, fan-shaped leaves that are a rich green with almost parallel veins. The leathery, 2- to 3-inch long and wide leaves are alternately arranged on the tree. Turn a bright yellow in the fall and after a hard frost may all fall at the same time.
Bark: A light grayish brown with irregular ridges that are somewhat corky, becoming deeply furrowed with age.
Interesting Fact: The Gingko or Maidenhair tree has been described as a ‘living fossil’ because it is the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees, older than the dinosaurs, around 270 million years ago. It was rediscovered in 1691 in China and was brought to this country in the late 1700s. They are the only living bridge between 'lower' and 'higher’ plants (between ferns and conifers), and can be extremely long-lived, the oldest recorded individual being 3,500 years old.