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Ginkgo biloba

Object Details

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Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection
On Display
Enid A. Haupt Garden
Accession Number
2011-0592A
Description
During the Jurassic era, forests of ginkgo-like trees blanketed the ground with their thick leaves. Now, fossils of those leaves are the only evidence we have of relatives of the ginkgo. Until 1690, it was thought by Europeans that fossils were the only evidence of ginkgos overall. That year, the German botanist Engelbert Kaempfer saw the tree in a Japanese temple garden, and the tree was spotted again in China the next year. Samples of the tree were collected, and news of this beautiful plant spread. The tree was given the scientific name Ginkgo biloba, due to the split nature of the leaves the tree produces on its long shoots. As only one type of leaf was collected, the fan-like shape of its other leaf type was undocumented for some time. Eventually, ginkgos became very popular as urban street trees due to their hardiness and beauty – with one caveat. The ginkgo is one of many types of trees that have separate male and female individuals. While the males produce showers of pollen, this is considered manageable when compared to the female's stinking fruit. Although edible if cleaned and processed, ginkgo fruit that has ripened and fallen to the ground can have a scent comparable to cat urine. For this reason, landscapers try to avoid planting female trees. Smithsonian Gardens has a single female tree, as an example.
Hardiness
-40 - 20 F
Bloom Time
Catkins and ovules produced in April.
Ethnobotanical Uses
Nut-like gametophyte is eaten in China and Japan.
Medicinal / Pharmaceutical
Leaves are used medicinally.
Provenance
Uncertain
Topic
Trees
Living Collections
Range
S China
Habitat
Moist, sandy, well-drained soils
Life Form
Deciduous tree
Average Height
40-80'
Bark Characteristics
Gray to brown, ridged
Bloom Characteristics
Males produce 1" long catkins. Females produce green, naked ovules.
Dioecious
Yes
Fall Color
Yellow
Foliage Characteristics
Green, simple, alternate, lobed, and fan shaped. Leaves of long shoots usually notched or lobed. 2-3" long. Leaves grow on spurs in clusters of 3-5. Have a thick, leathery texture.
Fruit Characteristics
Naked, fleshy, oval seed, grows in clusters of 2-6, and ripens to orange or tan color. Has a foul odor. 1-3". Edible.
Structure
Conical when young, spreads with age.
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Common Name
Ginkgo Tree
Maidenhair Tree
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Ginkgoidae
Order
Ginkoales
Family
Ginkgoaceae
Genus
Ginkgo
Species
biloba
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax7194af0ee-06c7-4205-99fd-9986fbfdc085
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2011-0592A
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
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