Ginkgoaceae - Ginkgo Family
The Ginkgo Tree is the last living species of its family, and is described as a living fossil. The Ginkgo is native to China, although it is now grown worldwide for medicinal, ornamental, and food uses.1 The average tree can grow to 80’ tall and 60’ wide; with age and space, they can become much larger than this.1 The trunk can grow up to 3’ wide with age, and its distinctive fan-shaped leaves can grow to 3” in length.1
This plant is identified by its medium green, fan shaped leaves.1 The trunk splits off as the tree goes up, into many separate branches; its light brown bark is deeply furrowed with age, though is smooth at younger ages.2 Ginkgo trees are gymnosperms, meaning that their seeds are only covered in a seed coat which protects the seed as it grows.2 They are wind pollinated.2 It can be propagated by seed, but often is artificially propagated by taking grafts from male plants. Female plants are less attractive because the fleshy seed coat is messy and malodorous.1
Ginkgo prefer partial to full sunlight in deep, moist, sandy soils.1 However, this tree is very adaptable, capable of living in poor soils, heat, drought, and polluted urban areas.2 Primarily, the Ginkgo is used for ornamentation, but its leaves and seeds are also used in medicines, herbal teas, and food.2 These trees are capable of living for thousands of years; some in China are more than 2000 years old.2 They have virtually no pests or diseases, providing for very long lifespan.1 These factors, along with its sturdy root system and ability to provide shade, make it a useful plant for wetland and stream bank stabilization.
References and Useful Websites:
1 Horticulture and Crop Science - Ohio State University
2 The Ginkgo Pages
This page was prepared by William Ballard, BIO 102, Fall 2011