One species of ginkgo tree exists, and it is the sole member of the genus.

Facts About Ginkgo

by Renee Miller

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) makes an attractive landscape tree with its light reddish brown twigs and fan-shaped leaves that provide long-lasting fall color. Ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species. While its relatives grew on Earth as far back as 150 million years ago, it is now extinct in the wild. Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree native to southern China.

1. Size and Foliage

Gingko's fan-shaped leaves are yellowish green during the growing season, and turn an attractive golden color in fall. Ginkgo makes an attractive landscape tree that grows to between 50 and 80 feet tall, with a spread of between 30 and 40 feet.

2. Flowers

The green flowers on the gingko bloom in April, although they’re not showy. The female trees produce seeds that are contained inside fleshy coverings. These coverings fall to the ground at maturity, where they break open and emit a foul odor. Because of this undesirable characteristic, garden centers usually sell only male cultivars that are fruitless.

3. Culture

Ginkgo grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 and does best in sandy, well-drained soil with medium moisture levels. Ginkgo trees will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including compacted soils and both alkaline and acidic conditions. They prefer sunny planting sites and tolerate pollution and coastal salt spray, so they can usually thrive as a street tree in urban environments.

4. Toxicity

Don't eat the raw seeds or the pulp that surrounds them because they are toxic. Touching the pulp can also cause skin irritation. Eating these parts can lead to irritation of the mouth and throat, stomach pain and nausea. Prevent children and pets from playing with the seeds if you have a female tree. Plant only male trees and you won't have this problem.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

Photo Credits

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