- Author: Toni Greer
The Ginkgo tree, also known as the maidenhair tree is the only living seed plant in the division Ginkgophyta, all others are extinct. It has quite a history as it is a living leaf fossil dating back 270 million years ago and is native to China. They can grow to be large, pyramidal-shaped trees and are considered to be both a shade tree and an ornamental tree that grow at a medium rate.
As a young tree, they can be tall and slender but will widen as they age. When we lived in St. Louis, we planted two on separate parts of our front yard. One of the tree's central leaders was snapped off on delivery to our home. However, because of their toughness, a new leader started to grow within a year. During the fall, the fan-shaped leaves of a Ginkgo turn bright yellow. They are disease and insect-resistant. These beautiful trees can be very long-lived with some specimens dating back more than 2500 years.
Both of our trees would turn at the same time and then would totally lose their leaves within a couple of hours with a loud swoosh! If you happened to be standing beneath either of the trees just before it happened, you would hear a very subtle noise, followed by all of the leaves hitting the ground, and you!
When selecting a Ginkgo for your yard, be sure to select a male tree as the female tree's fruit have a very unpleasant aroma. These days more reputable nurseries only sell male trees. They are a very recognizable, beautiful, deciduous tree and are considered the ultimate urban tree. The Ginkgo can tolerate many conditions, including heat, air pollution, salt, and small spaces to name a few. They also grow well as street trees.
My personal favorite trees are our Giant Sequoias and the Ginkgo. We planted the Ginkgo in our front yard in Fairfield. My hope is that in the fall, when it changes the color of its leaves, that my neighbors will ask what it is and decide they like it as well.
Trees make our world a much better place.