Ginkgo Tree Care: How To Grow A Ginkgo Tree
Just what are Ginkgo biloba benefits, what is ginkgo and how can one grow these useful trees? Read on for the answers to these questions and tips for growing ginkgo trees.
Gingko trees are deciduous, hardy shade trees with unique fan-shaped leaves which are linked to a primitive family of trees commonly found 160 million years ago in China. Considered to be the world’s oldest living species of tree, geological evidence of ginkgos have been dated to the Mesozoic era, some 200 million years ago!
Ginkgo trees are planted around temple sites in Japan and considered to be sacred. These trees produce an herbal product popular around the world, most specifically in Asian cultures.
Ginkgo Biloba Benefits
The ancient medicinal by-product resulting from ginkgo trees is derived from the seeds of the tree. Long touted for its benefits in improving memory/concentration (Alzheimer’s disease and dementia), Ginkgo biloba purported benefits also include relief from PMS symptoms, eye problems like macular degeneration, dizziness, leg pains associated with circulation issues, Tinnitus, and even MS symptoms.
Ginkgo biloba is not regulated or sanctioned by the FDA and is listed as an herbal product. A note on Ginkgo trees seeds: avoid products that contain fresh or roasted seeds as they contain a toxic chemical which can result in seizures or even death.
How to Grow a Ginkgo Tree
Also called the maidenhair tree, ginkgo trees are long living, drought and pest resistant, and incredibly strong; so strong in fact, they were the only trees to survive following the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack. These trees may grow to a height of 80 feet (24 m.); however, they are slow growers and as such, will work well in many garden areas within USDA zones 4-9.
Ginkgos have a gorgeous yellow fall color and a spreading habitat that varies, depending upon the cultivar. Autumn Gold is a male cultivar with good fall color, and both Fastigiata and Princeton Sentry® are columnar male forms. Male forms of gingko trees are mentioned, as the fruiting females tend to have an incredibly nasty odor described by many as smelling of, well, vomit. Hence, it is recommended that one plants only male trees.
Tips for Growing Ginkgo
Ginkgo trees are multi-purpose in their uses as they make wonderful shade trees, specimen plants (including amazing bonsai) and street trees. As street trees, they are tolerant of city conditions such as air pollution and road salt.
Although they may need to be staked when saplings, once they have attained some size, staking is no longer required and the trees may also be transplanted with great ease and no fuss.
As the tree is amazingly easy going about almost everything, including the pH of its soil, gingko tree care does not require a lot of finesse. When planting, ginkgo tree care will include setting in deep, well-draining soil in an area of full to partial sun.
Regular watering and a well balanced fertilizer regime is also recommended, at least until maturation — about the time it reaches 35 to 50 feet (11 to 15 m.) tall! Seriously though, gingko tree care is a simple process and will result in many years of shade from this ornamental botanical “dinosaur.”
Plant Profile: Ginkgo Tree
There’s been a lot of conversation recently about the most resilient trees to plant in the North to endure climate change. One that is always on the list is the Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba ), which is a tough urban tree that can handle salt, has the right height and shape to be a boulevard tree and offers stunning fall color and an unusual leaf shape. They also have basically no pests or diseases. The only concern about ginkgos is that they are nonnative trees, and consequently offer very little for our native pollinators.
A Living Fossil
Ginkgos are great street trees. This one in St. Paul is just about to turn yellow.
Ginkgos have been called living fossils because the genus has been around more than 200 million years. It is the only living species in the Ginkgophyta family. As a street tree, this fossil rocks. It grows slowly to a mature height of 50 to 80 feet with lovely spreading branches. The leaves are fan-shaped and a soft green color through spring and summer. In fall, they turn a bright yellow-orange, and often fall all at once, creating a carpet on the grass. Interestingly, they do not turn color every year, which has to do with the weather and how quickly summer turns to near winter.
Most ginkgos you will find in nurseries and garden centers are male trees. The female ginkgo tree produces a seed that has a soft covering that rots as the summer and fall progress. The odor from the rotting seed flesh is pretty strong and not pleasant. It isn’t fool-proof when nurseries identify male vs. female trees so sometimes people will get a female when they think they bought a male.
The species ginkgo grows very well in the North, but plant breeders have come up with a number of cultivars of ginkgo with special characteristics. For instance, Princeton Sentry™ is a narrow ginkgo, growing 40 feet tall and only 15 feet wide. Autumn Gold is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and has a broader appearance and symmetrical branching, as well as a golden fall color. Magyar ginkgo is a faster growing cultivar with a uniform shape.
For a tough street tree, ginkgo is definitely worth considering.
In fall, the leaves of ginkgo turn bright yellow. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Description
- 2.1 Phytochemicals
- 2.2 Branches
- 2.3 Leaves
- 2.4 Reproduction
- 2.5 Genome
- 3 Taxonomy
- 3.1 Classification
- 4 Evolution
- 4.1 Rise and decline
- 4.2 Limited number of species
- 4.3 Adaptation to a single environment
- 5 Distribution and habitat
- 6 Cultivation
- 6.1 Hiroshima
- 6.2 1000-year-old ginkgo at Tsurugaoka Hachimangū
- 7 Uses
- 7.1 Culinary
- 7.2 Traditional medicine
- 7.3 Dietary supplement
- 7.4 Adverse effects
- 8 Society and culture
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, "silver apricot",  which is derived from the Chinese 銀杏 used in Chinese herbalism literature such as Materia Medica ( 日用本草 (1329) appearing at volume 6, page 8) and Compendium of Materia Medica ( 本草綱目 (1578) ). 
Despite its complicated spelling, which is due to an exceptionally complicated etymology including a transcription error, "ginkgo" is usually pronounced / ˈ ɡ ɪ ŋ k oʊ / ,  which has given rise to the common other spelling "gingko". The spelling pronunciation / ˈ ɡ ɪ ŋ k ɡ oʊ / is also documented in some dictionaries.  
Engelbert Kaempfer first introduced the spelling ginkgo in his book Amoenitatum Exoticarum.  It is considered that he may have misspelled "Ginkjo" as "Ginkgo". This misspelling was included by Carl Linnaeus in his book Mantissa plantarum II and has become the name of the tree's genus. 
Ginkgos are large trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66–115 ft), with some specimens in China being over 50 m (165 ft). The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches, and is usually deep rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage. Young trees are often tall and slender, and sparsely branched the crown becomes broader as the tree ages. During autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow, then fall, sometimes within a short space of time (one to 15 days). A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.
Ginkgo prefers full sun and grows best in environments that are well-watered and well-drained. The species shows a preference for disturbed sites in the "semiwild" stands at Tianmu Mountains, many specimens are found along stream banks, rocky slopes, and cliff edges. Accordingly, ginkgo retains a prodigious capacity for vegetative growth. It is capable of sprouting from embedded buds near the base of the trunk (lignotubers, or basal chichi) in response to disturbances, such as soil erosion. Old individuals are also capable of producing aerial roots on the undersides of large branches in response to disturbances such as crown damage these roots can lead to successful clonal reproduction upon contacting the soil. These strategies are evidently important in the persistence of ginkgo in a survey of the "semiwild" stands remaining in Tianmushan, 40% of the specimens surveyed were multistemmed, and few saplings were present.  : 86–87
Ginkgo branches grow in length by growth of shoots with regularly spaced leaves, as seen on most trees. From the axils of these leaves, "spur shoots" (also known as short shoots) develop on second-year growth. Short shoots have very short internodes (so they may grow only one or two centimeters in several years) and their leaves are usually unlobed. They are short and knobby, and are arranged regularly on the branches except on first-year growth. Because of the short internodes, leaves appear to be clustered at the tips of short shoots, and reproductive structures are formed only on them (see pictures below – seeds and leaves are visible on short shoots). In ginkgos, as in other plants that possess them, short shoots allow the formation of new leaves in the older parts of the crown. After a number of years, a short shoot may change into a long (ordinary) shoot, or vice versa. [ citation needed ]
The leaves are unique among seed plants, being fan-shaped with veins radiating out into the leaf blade, sometimes bifurcating (splitting), but never anastomosing to form a network.  Two veins enter the leaf blade at the base and fork repeatedly in two this is known as dichotomous venation. The leaves are usually 5–10 cm (2–4 in), but sometimes up to 15 cm (6 in) long. The old popular name "maidenhair tree" is because the leaves resemble some of the pinnae of the maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris. Ginkgos are prized for their autumn foliage, which is a deep saffron yellow.
Leaves of long shoots are usually notched or lobed, but only from the outer surface, between the veins. They are borne both on the more rapidly growing branch tips, where they are alternate and spaced out, and also on the short, stubby spur shoots, where they are clustered at the tips. Leaves are green both on the top and bottom  and have stomata on both sides. 
Ginkgos are dioecious, with separate sexes, some trees being female and others being male. Male plants produce small pollen cones with sporophylls, each bearing two microsporangia spirally arranged around a central axis.
Female plants do not produce cones. Two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk, and after pollination, one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1.5–2 cm long. Its fleshy outer layer (the sarcotesta) is light yellow-brown, soft, and fruit-like. It is attractive in appearance, but contains butyric acid  (also known as butanoic acid) and smells like rancid butter or vomit  when fallen. Beneath the sarcotesta is the hard sclerotesta (the "shell" of the seed) and a papery endotesta, with the nucellus surrounding the female gametophyte at the center. 
The fertilization of ginkgo seeds occurs via motile sperm, as in cycads, ferns, mosses and algae. The sperm are large (about 70–90 micrometres)  and are similar to the sperm of cycads, which are slightly larger. Ginkgo sperm were first discovered by the Japanese botanist Sakugoro Hirase in 1896.  The sperm have a complex multi-layered structure, which is a continuous belt of basal bodies that form the base of several thousand flagella which actually have a cilia-like motion. The flagella/cilia apparatus pulls the body of the sperm forwards. The sperm have only a tiny distance to travel to the archegonia, of which there are usually two or three. Two sperm are produced, one of which successfully fertilizes the ovule. Although it is widely held that fertilization of ginkgo seeds occurs just before or after they fall in early autumn,   embryos ordinarily occur in seeds just before and after they drop from the tree. 
Chinese scientists published a draft genome of Ginkgo biloba in 2016.  The tree has a large genome of 10.6 billion DNA nucleobase "letters" (the human genome has three billion) and about 41,840 predicted genes  which enable a considerable number of antibacterial and chemical defense mechanisms. 
In 2020, a study in China of gingko trees up to 667 years old showed little effects of aging, finding that the trees continued to grow with age and displayed no genetic evidence of senescence, and continue to make immuno-defense chemicals throughout their life. 
The older Chinese name for this plant is 銀果, meaning "silver fruit", pronounced yínguǒ in Mandarin or Ngan-gwo in Cantonese. The current commonly used names are 白果 (bái guǒ), meaning "white fruit", and 銀杏 (yínxìng), meaning "silver apricot". The name 銀杏 was borrowed in Japanese イチョウ (ichou) or ぎんなん (ginnan) and Korean 은행 (eunhaeng), when the tree was introduced from China.
Carl Linnaeus described the species in 1771, the specific epithet biloba derived from the Latin bis, "two" and loba, "lobed", referring to the shape of the leaves.  Two names for the species recognise the botanist Richard Salisbury, a placement by Nelson as Pterophyllus salisburiensis and the earlier Salisburia adiantifolia proposed by James Edward Smith. The epithet of the latter may have been intended to denote a characteristic resembling Adiantum, the genus of maidenhair ferns. 
The scientific name Ginkgo is the result of a spelling error that occurred three centuries ago. Kanji typically have multiple pronunciations in Japanese, and the characters 銀杏 used for ginnan can also be pronounced ginkyō. Engelbert Kaempfer, the first Westerner to investigate the species in 1690, wrote down this pronunciation in the notes that he later used for the Amoenitates Exoticae (1712) with the "awkward" spelling "ginkgo".  This appears to be a simple error of Kaempfer taking his spelling of other Japanese words containing the syllable "kyō" into account, a more precise romanization following his writing habits would have been "ginkio" or "ginkjo".  Linnaeus, who relied on Kaempfer when dealing with Japanese plants, adopted the spelling given in Kaempfer's "Flora Japonica" (Amoenitates Exoticae, p. 811). Kaempfer's drawing can be found in Hori's article. 
The relationship of ginkgo to other plant groups remains uncertain. It has been placed loosely in the divisions Spermatophyta and Pinophyta, but no consensus has been reached. Since its seeds are not protected by an ovary wall, it can morphologically be considered a gymnosperm. The apricot-like structures produced by female ginkgo trees are technically not fruits, but are seeds that have a shell consisting of a soft and fleshy section (the sarcotesta), and a hard section (the sclerotesta). The sarcotesta has a strong smell that most people find unpleasant.
The ginkgo is classified in its own division, the Ginkgophyta, comprising the single class Ginkgoopsida, order Ginkgoales, family Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo and is the only extant species within this group. It is one of the best-known examples of a living fossil, because Ginkgoales other than G. biloba are not known from the fossil record after the Pliocene.  
Chinese emperors use to literally kill for this stuff, and it’s not very difficult to see why:
It can be used as a potent wrinkle cream, a killer moisturizer, a daily supplement and of course, one of the most nutritious cups of tea that you’ll ever come across. This is one powerful root!
And that power can be harnessed to varying degrees through certain cultivation and preparation methods.
Native Wildflowers Nursery
The tree is a living fossil, an ancient species from there a hundred million years ago. Ginkgo comes from Chinese yinxing, which means silver apricot. The name maidenhair is European it is the tree leaves' similarity to a native maidenhair fern. The Ginkgo Biloba Maidenhair Tree grows best in full sun, especially in the North.
The tree grows with average water needs, and it withstands road salt and pollution. It is a salt-tolerant plant, which makes it suitable for landscapes near oceans. Although the tree is a distinct species, it is still beautiful among the deciduous trees. The tree's habit is dense pyramidal in its early life, but it changes irregularly over time. The leaves are rich green and become yellow during the fall, it has the shape of a fan, and the tree has a spreading canopy. The tree has an exotic charm, and as a shade tree, it tolerates the factors of urban conditions. The lifespan of the tree is around three thousand years. Historically, the tree is the only surviving among a group of ancient plants.
The Ginkgo Biloba tree grows to a length of twenty-five and fifty feet tall and a width of twenty-five to thirty-five feet.
The tree grows in full sun, well-drained, both acidic and alkaline soils, and average moisture. The tree is naturally free from pests and diseases, and it is a perfect specimen tree tolerant to harsh environmental conditions. It grows up to 1100m attitude. The tree also transplants with ease, and it is native to China.
Traditionally, the tree is a source of food and medicine. According to the Buddhist religion, the tree is sacred and present on temple grounds.
The tree's bark is grey and furrowed, and every tree has one sex of flowers, which could be male or female. The female flowers are dioecious, and the male flowers are drooping. The female flowers are smaller than the male, and they hang about four centimeters while the male hangs eight centimeters. The male cultivars are fruitless and a lot of different shapes and sizes. Fertilization takes place through wind pollination. The tree fruits mature during autumn, and they are drupe-like their color is light yellow, and when they decay, they are purplish-black. As the fruits ripen, their smell is like rancid butter. The fruits of this tree are messy and stinky. The outer flesh is smelly but encloses delicious nuts.
How to the Ginkgo Biloba, Maidenhair tree.
According to research by the University of Florida, the Ginkgo tree takes about twenty years to mature until it is possible to distinguish its sex. Although the tree is a native of China, it grows in other areas with high temperatures and deep soil. The roots of Ginkgo trees grow more in-depth into the surface than other trees. The tree is narrow in its early growth years, but it grows more expansive as it continues to age. The tree mostly grows in sandy soil, and it is a perfect choice for landscaping. You should avoid planting the tree near the house or driveway.
Tips for Growing a Ginkgo Biloba Maidenhair Tree.
The tree is so healthy, and it survived the bomb attack at Hiroshima. However, they grow slower, and they need staking during saplings, but as growth continues, staking becomes irrelevant, and you can transplant them easily. During planting a Ginkgo Biloba Maidenhair Tree, the setting should be deep, less finesse, and drained soils.
It would be best to have regular watering and a controlled fertilizer regime up to the tree's maturity level. The tree copes with various temperature and humidity levels. Their slow growth should never be a reason to avoid planting them because they short live other weak trees that grow faster. Considering the benefits of the tree, you can consider planting it as a long-term investment. The best time to plant the tree is during the fall or spring. Planting the tree also requires a big hole. You can prune the tree during winter if you wish to.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects
Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is likely safe for most people. Side effects are rare, but the most common ones include digestive upset, headache, increased heart rate, dizziness and allergic reaction. Currently, there is not enough information available on the safety of ginkgo biloba for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is possible that ginkgo may be unsafe during pregnancy due to the fact that it may contribute to early labor or cause excessive bleeding during labor and birth. Therefore, women should talk to their doctor before taking any supplement containing ginkgo if pregnant or if there is concern regarding transfer to the baby via breast milk (x).
For people with certain health conditions or concerns, it is advised to seek medical guidance before taking ginkgo since the medicinal qualities of the plant are contraindicated with some conditions. These medical conditions include bleeding disorders, known upcoming surgery, history of seizures, diabetes and infertility. It is also best to refrain from taking ginkgo while also taking ibuprofen and medications that affect blood clotting (x). Taking ginkgo while using these medications may result in bruising or excessive bleeding.
Ginkgo biloba, the last surviving form of ginkgo tree, is cold hardy down to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone 3. However, it doesn't grow well in tropical areas and is not recommended for areas warmer than zone 8a. Based on its hardiness rating, Ginkgo biloba can survive winter temperatures between minus 35 degrees F and minus 40 degrees F.
- This tree was thought extinct until a specimen was discovered in Japan in the 17th century.
- Ginkgo seeds were transferred to Europe in the 17th century, where they have been grown as specimen trees ever since.