Tree of the Week – Ginkgo Biloba

While it is not near as common as some of the other trees explored in this series, the Ginkgo Biloba’s striking characteristics ensure that this tree won’t go unrecognized in the urban treescape.

Ginkgos are some of the oldest trees ever found on earth. So old that they are often referred to as “living fossils”. Fossil records reveal Ginkgo leaves dating back 280 million years ago. These fossil records reveal the Ginkgo leaf to be an exact, or near exact replica of the Ginkgo leaves that we may very well rake up in our backyard this Fall.

A glimpse at a Ginkgo leaf may further its status as ancient because it is completely unlike any other leaf you will find in the city. It is the only leaf you will find that is fan-shaped, meaning that it is narrow close to the base and broadens as it reaches the end of the leaf, just like a fan.

Ginkgo Biloba

Unique Elements

What may make Ginkgos so unique is that while they are one of the oldest species of trees, oddly enough they have the resilience to grow in dense urban environments despite all the potential stresses. They are classified as a zone 3 tree, suggesting that they can withstand pretty cold winters. In addition, pollution does not phase Ginkgo’s too heavily.

Make no mistake, while it may not be as plentiful of a tree as a maple or locust, it is still widely planted as a street tree.

Ginkgo Biloba trees are not small by any means either. They can grow to height of 30 meters similar to that of an Oak, Maple, or Black Walnut.

Ginkgo trees are dioecious meaning that some trees are males and others females. If you are considering planting a Ginkgo you may want to consider if you want a male or female variety planted as each has their pros and cons.

Food For Thought

Here is a quiz for you. As has been mentioned already, the Ginkgo tree is a “living fossil”. If you are hoping to find one then you could simply take a stroll through Gage Park. But there is another species of tree also considered a “living fossil” in Gage Park. There is only one of this species of tree in Gage Park; what species is it, and where can it be found?  Lastly, why not check out another local tree, the honey locust.

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