Ginko biloba is commonly just called Ginko although sometimes known as the Maidenhair Tree and is native to China. Ginkos are large reaching as much as 35 meters tall often with a number of trunks. As the tree ages the crown broadens. The leaves turn yellow and fall in Autumn. The can be extremely long-lived with some specimens claimed to be over two and half thousand years old! The longevity may be linked to its hardy nature with its deep roots it resists snow and disease and the hard wood makes it less vulnerable to pests, all of which has led to its cultivation from ancient times. Used now as an ornamental it is popular in cities because it is pollution resistant.
It is a unique tree family of just one genus and extremely ancient. In turn its leaves are a unique shape amongst plants that form seeds. It may be that the alternative name is because the leaves resemble those of the maidenhair fern. The trees are either male or female not both, with males forming pollen cones and the females form ovules at the end of each stalk that swell on pollination into one or two seeds.
Funky Facts File: The name is probably derived from a mispronouncing of the Japanese ‘gin kyo’ a name for the Silver Apricot. So hardy are the trees that, although severely charred they survived the atomic bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima soon bursting back to life. The attractive looking seed is a light yellow-brown, soft and fruit-like but is said to smell of rancid butter or vomit! However, these contain a nut that is prized in Chinese food. Nevertheless, eating large quantities can lead to poisoning.