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Featured Plant

Ginkgo biloba


Scientific Name: Ginkgo biloba

Common Names: Naked Ladies

Family: Ginkgoaceae

Plant Type: Deciduous Tree

Environment: Tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions, but does best in full sun and well-drained, slightly acidic soils, but tolerates low light and slightly alkaline soils as well.

Bloom: Typically in the Spring, male and female 'flowers' are on separate trees (dioecious)

Uses: Effective as a formal planting, a shade tree, a border planting, or a street or parkway tree.

Other: The name 'ginkgo' is probably derived from the Chinese 'yin-kou' (silver fruit). It is theorized that dinosaurs fed on it as it dates back more than 250 million years. It is the lone genus remaining in the family Ginkgoaceae and Ginkgo biloba is the only species in the genus. First brought to the United States in 1784 in Philadelphia, it was a favorite tree of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


Ginkgo biloba can be found in:

Temperate Asia Garden (Bed 23B) 

Ancient Plant Garden (Bed 68).



Ginkgo biloba

The Ginkgo tree is a botanical survivor with an ancestral line millions of years old. Often called a living fossil, it resembles no other tree, neither broadleaf or conifer. Its leaves are fan shaped, without a midrib, and with radiating veins similar to those of a maidenhair fern, thus acquiring the name "maidenhair tree." Its origins are believed to be in southeastern China, and old trees are still found around Chinese temples.

A female ginkgo has plum-like fruits that are foul smelling when they drop, as such, the male tree is much preferred and recommended for planting. Alternative medicine enthusiasts claim an extract from the leaves is effective in treating memory loss by improving blood flow to the brain. There are indications that more study is needed for verifying this. G. biloba is also a known blood thinner.

Fossilized parts of ginkgo trees have been found in temperate and polar regions of the world. Ginkgo State Park, in the state of Washington, is a petrified forest of ginkgo trees. In the fall, the leaves turn a brilliant gold, and the trees are prized as street trees from Montreal to New Orleans. "It is paradoxical," according to one botanist, "that one of the most primitive plants on earth can thrive in the most modern of environments."


Photos by Joanne Taylor; text by Kathy McNeil; profile by David Kruse-Pickler