Ginkgo Biloba Has An Ancient History

One of the earliest trees on earth, identified through fossils, was the Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree.

gingko-edit

Photo: by Roger Butterfield

Ginkgo leaf in early autumn.

The first trees evolved more than 300 million years ago. Their ability to produce oxygen by photosynthesis enabled other life forms, such as humans, to evolve too.

One of the earliest trees on earth, identified through fossils, was the Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree. It is the last existing member of a family of trees called the ginkgos, which together with conifers were the predominant trees on earth 250 million years ago.

Ginkgos produce male and female flowers on separate trees, and the females then produce foul smelling fruit. Therefore, it is very important to be sure to plant only male trees in the home or public landscape.

Ginkgos are deciduous and have fan-shaped leaves that are similar to the shape of the leaves on the maidenhair fern, thus the common name of maidenhair tree. The foliage turns golden yellow in autumn, and the tree has a pleasing conical shape and pale gray bark. These trees are pollinated by the wind.

Originating in China, ginkgos are found now throughout the northern hemisphere in temperate regions and can grow up to 130 feet tall. See if you can find one growing near you. Hopefully you will see it and not smell it.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Focus on Flowers:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Focus on Flowers

About The Host

Search Focus on Flowers

Focus on Flowers on Flickr