What Is a Ginkgo Tree?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
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  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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The ginkgo tree is thought to be one of the oldest types of trees still living. As a result, it is known by other names, such as fossil tree, maidenhair tree, and kew tree. It is often called by its species name, Ginkgo biloba, as well. It is enjoyed for its large shady branches, its ability to grow in city environments, and its beautiful fall foliage. In addition, it is used in homeopathic medicine to treat a wide range of ailments and is believed to increase blood flow to the brain and limbs of the body. Although the ginkgo tree has its origins in China, it is found in urban and rural landscapes across the globe.

Tall and wide, the ginkgo tree can grow to heights of 80 to 120 feet (about 24.4 to 36.6 m). It has leaves that are shaped like fans, allowing them to wave gently in the wind. In addition, the veins on the leaves are moderately raised, giving the leaves a ribbed look. In autumn, the green leaves turn to yellow or gold.


One of the most well-known features of the ginkgo tree is its fruit or seeds. The fruit typically falls in autumn. If the trees cover a sidewalk, street, or other walkway, pedestrians often note the mushy mess the fruit creates on the ground. In addition, the fruit releases a putrid smell. Although the fruit is not eaten in most cultures, the Japanese consider it to be a delicacy.

The ginkgo tree grows best in full sunlight or in areas that are partly shaded. In addition, it prefers soil to be moist and sandy, though it can grow in conditions that are quite adverse. It is thought to be a good tree in most cities because it can live through a wide range of conditions, such as drought, salt deicers, poor soil conditions, and air pollution. In addition, it is not susceptible to pests and disease.

Perhaps one of the reasons many people are familiar with the ginkgo tree is because of its varied medicinal uses. For example, it is thought to improve memory and treat blood disorders, such as blood clots. The extract found in the leaves of the ginkgo tree contains antioxidants, making it a possible anti-aging agent. It is also thought to improve memory, but studies are still unclear as to its effectiveness in this area. The extract also is thought to improve blood flow in the arms and legs as well as help to maintain vision in people with macular degeneration.


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Post 3

@burcidi-- If you're going to plant a ginkgo tree, I highly recommend the Autumn Gold variety. It has beautiful golden leaves in Autumn.

Also, if you don't want to deal with the fruit, which is born by female ginkgo trees, get a male ginkgo tree. The fruit is messy and it smells kind of bad.

Post 2

@burcidi-- I don't know too much about ginkgo trees but I think it does well in most climates and different types of soil. We have ginkgo trees here in South Virginia and I know my cousin has one in her yard in Minnesota. Minnesota gets extremely cold in winter so if ginkgo can put up with that, it has to be durable.

You might want to check with a nursery in your area to make sure, but I think ginkgo will be okay in Washington.

May I ask why you want a ginkgo tree? If it's just for appearance, you might want to rethink it because ginkgo loses all its leaves in winter.

Post 1

Which states in the US have suitable climate and soil for growing ginkgo trees? Will it grow in Washington?

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