November 11, 2008

Ginkgo Biloba

This is the wonderful BRIGHT YELLOW Ginkgo biloba tree outside the front door where I work. You can't tell by these photos just how bright yellow this tree is.
The Ginkgo biloba tree is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. What does that mean? Well, it is a living fossil. Some fossils of the ginkgo dating back 270 million years. Why? Because it is the only species within its group. For centuries it was thought to be extinct in the wild, but is now known to grow in at least 2 small areas in Eastern China. (Well, we have 1 right here in downtown Richmond, Virginia)

Ginkgos have a resistance to disease and have insect resistant wood giving them the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts making them very long lived trees-some specimens lasting for 2,500 years! WOW!
These trees are dioecious (separate sexes) some trees male and some female. This is a female tree just outside our front door. This tree produces seeds that are encapsulated inside a brownish fleshy outer covering. And get this-they SMELL absolutely horrible. You wouldn't believe it if I told you-they smell like dog poo!
As I mentioned, this tree is just outside the building where I work, and about this same time every year it produces its fruit. Folks walking by always step on the seeds causing them to burst and let out their terrible smell. Whenever this happens, the people look on the bottom of their shoes thinking they have stepped in a pile of poo, but NO, it's just the annual droppings from the ginkgo tree. Apparently these seeds have a chemical called butanoic acid (which is also found in rancid butter and feces) that causes them to smell this way. Poor ginkgo tree-no one really likes it because of the SMELL! Well, I do- like the tree that is, not the smell.

Every year our employees look up at the tree noticing its fruit that will be dropping soon and they dread it-the smell that is. We call it the doo doo ball tree-that's sad, isn't it? It really is a LOVELY tree in spite of itself!

Something else to note about the Ginkgo...the extract from the leaves contain flavonoid glycosides & terpenoids which are used as a memory and concentration enhancer. According to some studies Ginkgo can significantly improve attention in healthy individuals and the effect is almost immediate after intake. Ginkgo shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. *(all of this information taken from Wikipedia)
So, even though our Ginkgo is a very stinky tree. I still LOVE her just the same!


Bev's Jewelry said...

We used to have a Ginkgo tree when we lived in Downingtown, PA. Our house was new and my husband planted several young trees. We moved before it was mature enough to know whether it was male or female. He was going to cut it down if it was a female. We noticed when we drove by after we had moved that it was gone. Not sure but I'd guess it was a female.
It is supposed (according to my husband)to be a good city tree. Many cities had female trees before they "figured it out".


selena said...

Autumn is wonderful this year

lupe said...

great post, I did not know Ginkgo was so rare and ancient.
I love the shapes of the leaves.
Very insightful ! .
Thank you for sharing :)

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Cat (darklingwoods) said...

I had no idea ginkos lived so long! Really interesting :)

and beautiful!

Lola said...

thanks and i love a lot of the pictures on this blog.. nice to find you!. Lola xx