Ginko Tree: How To Identify and Grow Ancient Maidenhair Tree (No Mess or Danger)

Woman looking at Ginko tree leaves wonders how to grow ginko bilboa tree, how to identify types of maidenhair tree, and if the ginko tree fruit, leaves, seeds, can be eaten and other planting and care tips.

To say that the Ginkgo tree has been around for a long time is an understatement.

You would be amazed at how many species of trees there are in the world, but among them, all this one is very special, its life story a part of history.

In fact, the Ginko tree has some amazing properties and this ancient “Maidenhair Tree” can be grown safely, without any mess or danger if you live in an area that supports it.

This complete guide explains how to recognize the Ginko tree, as well as how to grow your own (without any danger), and the fabulous benefits that can be derived from this lovely, graceful and long-lived tree.

Ginkgo Biloba: The Ginko Tree

It is as if the Ginko Tree has absorbed a specially formulated Chinese medication through its roots that has enabled it to live for thousands of years, if not given in complete immortality.

Ginko Tree

(Ginkgo biloba)

Photo of the Ginkgo Tree in an oval frame in green background.
  • Family: Ginkgoaceae
  • Genus: Ginkgo
  • Leaf: Bright green and turns a golden yellow in the fall, and has a length and width of 2-3 inches with a unique fan design.
  • Bark: Gray with a deeply grooved surface.
  • Seed: One small seed per fruit.
  • Blossoms: They are not true flowers but catkins that are 2-5 cm long and bloom in the middle of spring in various colors.
  • Fruit: Small, yellow, and plum-like, but is botanically classed as a seed with a fleshy covering that only grows on the female tree.
  • Native Habitat: Prefers moist, sandy, and alkaline-rich soil that is well-draining in climates that are not too dry.
  • Height: 25 - 100 feet
  • Canopy: 25 - 35 feet in width
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Native Growing Zone: China
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 - 8

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking



As a species, this Chinese native has been on the planet for at the very least 270 million years, making it one of the oldest living tree species known to man.

Yet now, after all these millennia, it is classed as endangered, as being under threat of possible extinction.

Let’s see what can be done to save this species, and why the female trees may be at fault.

Ginkgo Biloba Tree (The Oldest Tree In The World)

Designated as a living fossil, the ginkgo species is considered the oldest tree in the world and has been around since the dawn of time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, making it one of only a few tree species that has survived through the centuries.

The existence of ginkgo biloba in those early years of Earth’s development has been confirmed and documented by scientists who carbon-dated preserved leaves from that moment in the planet’s history.

Also known as the maidenhair tree, ginkgos1 have always fascinated botanists by the way they age, and by the way they don’t seem to age like most other tree species.

For instance, a young ginkgo tree is one that is a few hundred years old, a middle-aged one is about 1,000 years old, and an ancient ginkgo biloba is one that has reached the ripe old age of 3,000 years.

In its native China, there is still one growing strong that is suspected as being about 3,500 years old.

It has been estimated that in human terms a ginkgo tree that has been around for 1,000 years is the equivalent of a person being a young 20 years old.

Strangely enough, this phenomenon boils down to biological programming and a cut-off switch.

Humans stop growing at a certain age and start to decline in health as cells stop reproducing and regenerating themselves.

By meticulously analyzing the DNA of live cells just beneath the bark, called the cambium, it was discovered that the ginkgo tree continues to expand its canopy during its entire lifespan and doesn’t stop growing.

These DNA strands do not possess a “death program” that clicks into place after a certain number of years and prevents the tree from regenerating itself. Absent this default program, it will keep on growing, and keep on replacing worn-out cells in the cadmium with new ones.

If this gene existed within humans or a method was discovered to temporarily rejuvenate aging cells, it would be quite possible to live for hundreds of years and grow up to 8 feet tall.

When the genes of some ancient trees have been compared against a younger one in the same species, the difference in age is minimal. This trait that teases the possibility of immortality exists in other species of trees that have lived for centuries, such as Methuselah, which is 4,853 years old and climbing, but not in others that live for just 20 years.

That is not to say ginkgo biloba trees do not age.

After 200 years, cell division does slow down significantly with the rate of growth considerably less, lateral and vertical expansion being no longer in double-digit inches but in double-digit cm.

Biologists have presupposed that living indefinitely is more than possible for any ginkgo tree, but if that were the case, why would they die?

Nature gives and nature takes away.

Pests, diseases, natural disasters such as forest fires and floods, as well as climate change2 and the impact of mankind can interrupt the tree’s ability to constantly renew itself by growing new wood, roots, leaves, fruits, and flowers.

Old age is not always the cause of the death of the tree. Outside forces are often the cause of population control that caps the ginkgo trees’ potential to live forever.

How To Identify Ginkgo Tree: Ginkgo Tree Leaves

On how to identify Ginkgo Tree, the most distinguishing characteristic of the Ginkgo Tree leaves is its fan-shaped leaves, which have been likened to duck feet due to the way in which the lobes are spread apart. This is an aspect that is shared in common with the maidenhair fern but ginkgo leaves a much bigger.

Botanically speaking, it is a link between conifers and ferns, bearing traits from both species, such as the leaves from the Maidenhair fern and often the same conical shape as the conifer tree.

This tree with fan shaped leaves spends the majority of its time as green during the spring and the summer, and they are easy to recognize even at a quick glance. The color varies as the summer season comes to a close, culminating in the entire tree’s foliage turning a golden yellow, and giving a final wave in the fall before dropping off.

Ginkgo biloba is the sole species in the genus, yet it has such a wide variety of cultivars that it may be utilized in almost any garden. However, this versatility can make identification difficult if the tree is planted in a row with other conifers that have pyramidal shapes.

There are dwarf and bonsai versions of this tree, but on average it is cultivated as a large tree that may grow up to 100 feet tall, with one of the tallest reaching 165 feet in China.

Dwarf and bonsai3 varieties are available and are equally impressive at any time of year and in any location

It used to be that the ginkgo biloba was only found in a specific region in China, but now it is cultivated all over the world due to its attractiveness and its resistance to survive in both warm and cold climates, and in varied soil types

Ginkgo Tree Facts About Propagation (And Grow Ancient Maidenhair Trees)

In contrast to many other tree species that no longer exist, ginkgos were widely distributed across Central Europe from approximately 30 million years ago.

At this period in history, dinosaurs were the dominant species until meteors and the Ice Age wiped them out.

Numerous tree species also died out apart from hardy species like the ginkgo tree which went on to survive in China, one of the few places on the planet where the temperature for fauna and flora was just barely survivable.

There, centuries later botanists and plant enthusiasts rediscovered the ginkgo tree, reviving its global distribution enthusiastically and actively, instantly understanding that this was the only species of the family Ginkgoaceae that was still alive, and its continued existence was of vital importance to the planet.

A picturesque view of a land somewhere in London showing a few Maidenhair Trees.

(Image: Oliver Olah30)

Propagation of this ancient maidenhair tree is from cuttings or seeds. In forests, the seeds would be dispersed by animals and foragers and transported further afield. Once passing through the animal’s digestive system or being dropped, the seeds often became buried in the soil where cold stratification would take place and then germination to eventually coax the shoots to emerge.

This period can last as long as 2 years, with some of the seeds surviving, and some of them not.

The stratification process can be accelerated in a controlled setting by storing the seeds in a ziplock bag with a bit of peat moss in a cool, dry place for a couple of months.

If you have decided to go this route, then for another 2 months the seeds would need to be kept at the back of the refrigerator.

After this stratification period has ended, take the ginkgo biloba seeds out of the bag and lightly sand the surfaces. You don’t want to do this too much; you just need to do it enough to make a hole through which moisture can enter. Place them in a bowl of water, and after one day, remove them and proceed to the next stage.

  • Pour a mixture of coarse sand and perlite or a suitable potting media4 into a 4-inch diameter planting pot, and saturate fully with water.
  • Sterilize the seeds by soaking them in a bowl for 10 minutes filled with water and a dash of household bleach. When the time is up, rinse them off and blot them with paper towels to remove any traces of bleach.
  • Sow them in the ground outside or in a container at a shallow depth and in about 3 weeks the sprouts should be noticeable.
  • Indirect sunlight is best at this point of its development and if possible keeping them in an indoor setting would also probably be best.

Be mindful of colder-than-normal nights as the seedlings grow whether the plant is inside or out.

Mature ginkgo trees are generally frost-resistant, but their younger counterparts are more vulnerable to the cold and may perish if exposed to near-freezing temperatures for too long.

So if the ginkgo tree propagates so easily, why is it on the endangered list?

Possible reasons may well point to deforestation, the resulting disappearance of the animals that help to disperse the seeds, and other tree species that grow faster and more aggressively and dominate the habitat that they are supposed to be sharing, pushing the ginkgo tree off to one side.

But it is a species that never says die.

There can be no doubt that its ability to live for such a long time has played a significant role in its continued survival.

The way that it is continually expanding and taking over urban streets can also be laid at the door of its hardiness in rough neighborhoods and also its beautiful leaves. They are attractive in the summer and mesmerizing in the fall as they change color, and because of this feature they are actively sought after and planted in multiple states across the country and millions of gardens across the world, dragging Gingko Plant back from the brink of extinction.

Ginkgo Tree Fruit And The Ginkgo Seed (No Mess or Danger)

Realistically, they are one and the same.

Fruits of the Ginkgo Biloba Tree are little, round, flesh-covered seeds that develop at the very tip of the plant’s long stem. But the term ‘fruits’ is not quite accurate as they are botanically called naked seeds – gymnosperms.

This is where the plant does not possess an ovary, unlike angiosperms which develop seeds apart from the fruit such as apples, and cherries, whereas gymnosperms5 generate their fruits first.

Around the inner seed, there are 3 protective layers called a testa – the outer sarcotesta, the middle sclerotesta, and the inner endotesta.

A photo of several Ginkgo nuts and leaves lying on a grassy ground.

(Image: Aleksei Tertychnyi31)

The middle layer changes color to orange-yellow as it ripens, and when this happens anyone in close proximity will be repulsed.

Only the female Ginkgo Tree has fruits and the smell of them has been associated with vomit.

This revolting-smelling aspect of the female tree’s Ginkgo Tree fruit has given a bad rep to the entire species, it’s that repelling. But there is no reason not to implant a Ginkgo seed in your backyard, just make sure it’s the male one.

So are the fruits edible?

The cherry-sized, rancid-smelling fruits are edible but it’s mainly the inner seed that is consumed as they contain the harmful compounds cyanogenic glycosides, so only a few should be eaten at a time. If you can get passed the smell, of course.

The white inner seeds, eaten as a delicacy in parts of Asia, are prized for their therapeutic and nutritional value. The taste is more or less the same as pistachios. with the texture of chestnuts.

Anyone with sensitive skin should wear gloves when handling the fleshy exterior as they have been known to cause contact dermatitis.6

Also, even though some of the harmful elements are eliminated when the nuts are fried, consumption should be limited to very moderate amounts for adults, just a few a day for children, and kept away from pets as they will prove very toxic to them.

If consumed by cats or dogs, they will exhibit blisters around the mouth, experience bouts of vomiting and possibly seizures, and should be immediately taken to the vet for evaluation and treatment.

By all means, incorporate one of these ornamental beauties in your front or back yard, but just be aware that if you choose the female variety your garden is going to have hundreds of these putrid-smelling fruits littering your pristine lawn every year, upsetting your neighbors and your olfactory senses.

How To Control Ginkgo Tree Seeds

It is not possible to tell whether a Ginkgo Tree going to be male or female when looking at Ginkgo Tree seeds.

On average, it can take between 20-30 years before any fruits begin to grow and by that time the tree will be firmly rooted in place. The first time you may come to realize the sex of the tree is when the incredibly unpleasant aroma comes wafting in through your house.

The fault may not lie at your feet as sometimes Ginkgo Trees labeled as male have been grafted to a female rootstock and occasionally that gene will become dominant and the tree will bear fruit.

So what can you do about the fruits?

No one wants a yearly overpowering stench of dog poop wafting around the garden and through their home every fall because of the tree they have mistakenly planted.

Some local authorities have attempted to prevent the trees from fruiting by spraying them with a chemical inhibitor, with varying degrees of success.

Really, there are only 2 options to avoid the overpowering stench.

  1. Pick and collect all the fruits before or immediately as they fall to the ground to prevent them from rotting.
  2. Uproot the entire tree and start again.

Growing Zones For Ginkgo Tree: Where To Grow In The U.S.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that the Ginkgo Tree was first introduced to North America. Since then they have gained in popularity and become ornamental features in states running through the USDA Hardiness zones7 3 to 8.

Recognizing where your state resides in the hardiness zone will help you to know when to plant to avoid any complications, and the list below will give you an idea of when the ground should be frost-free. and is perfect for growing zones for Ginkgo Tree (where to grow).

  • Zone 3:  The ground will have thawed by the middle of May. The ground will start to freeze again towards the middle of September.
  • Zone 4: This zone’s thaw date will have occurred about 12 days into May, and will become frosted again near the end of September.
  • Zone 5: The frost in the ground in this zone disappears earlier by the end of April and becomes frozen again later in mid-October.
  • Zone 6: The higher the zone, the quicker the thaw. By April, the ground will have thawed completely and be ready for planting, and you’ll just have to be careful towards the end of October when the ground gets cold and hard again.
  • Zone 7: Here, it’s okay to plant after the end of March. The frost in the ground will return at the tail end of October.
  • Zone 8: As soon as St. Patrick’s Day has passed it’s safe to plant your Gingko Tree, and then you’ll have nothing to worry about until November.

Due to their hardiness with environmental pollutants such as from vehicle exhausts, they are widely cultivated in metropolitan areas where they can survive where other plants would not.

Road salt is also not a problem if accidentally scattered over the trunk, which also means that planting in coastal regions is not a problem either.

They are amenable to a variety of climates and temperatures but they do not do well at all in very hot and dry environments.

Ginkgo Tree Growth Rate (How Fast Do Ginkgo Trees Grow?)

It is a frequent sight to see this tree planted to provide shade for a backyard or to line a walkway. On small front lawns, it is normally a solitary but no less imposing figure while in bigger gardens it might be one of several that are shaped like pyramids or are more overgrown and bushy.

For Ginkgo Tree growth rate or how fast do Ginkgo Trees grow, the sizes will vary as within the first year the trees will grow at a moderate rate. After that first slow period of development, 13-24 inches can be added on every year if the tree is properly watered and cared for.

How Easy Is It To Grow A Ginkgo Plant (Gingko Plant)? (Ginkgo Tree Growing Zone)

Providing the ideal, perfect planting conditions and Ginkgo Tree growing zone is the goal of any gardener regardless of whether you’re planning on growing a Ginkgo Tree from a seed or growing a Ginkgo Tree from a cutting.

Choosing the right location where the soil8 will retain a good moisture content and has acidity levels between 5 and 7. It will also need to be deep, nutrient-rich, and porous to reduce the risk of any future problems as the tree matures.

Ginkgo Trees are renowned for being hardy and adaptable to a wide range of living conditions and can be trained to grow in a columnar shape, allowed to blossom as a large spherical tree with an umbrella canopy, or turned into an espalier, or even pruned down to be the smallest of bonsais.

Growing a Ginkgo Tree from a seedling outside is relatively easy as long as a few steps of planting tips for ginkgo trees are followed.

  • Make sure when you dig out the planting hole that it is the same depth as the root ball in the container.
  • If planting more than one tree, space them about 20 feet apart and the same distance from other plants. But the Ginkgo Tree is a cultivar that grows in a narrow pyramid shape, then a distance of between 7-10 feet should be allowed.
  • Mix the soil from the newly dug hole with compost to supply the tree with additional nutrients. Transplanting can induce a level of stress to the plant and this will help to alleviate that intensity level.
  • Backfill the hole with the prepared soil, pat it down gently around the root ball, and create a mound at the hole’s base to catch runoff.
  • Put two stakes in the ground on opposite sides of the tree for support, perpendicular to the direction of the wind, and then tie down your Ginkgo.
  • Finally, thoroughly saturate the soil and the roots.

Not all cultivars are going to be suitable to be either grown permanently in a container or sculpted into a tiny bonsai tree if that’s the direction you wish to grow in.

To maintain this miniature size, only slow-growing Ginkgo cultivars such as the ‘Mariken’ would be a viable option.

  • Only premium potting soil should be used
  • To prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged, add a drainage layer of gravel, sand, or expanded clay to the bottom of the container that is at least 5 cm thick.
  • Set the tree in its new home, backfill, and lightly pack the earth down around it.
  • Water heavily until the water seeps out of the base.

Best Growing Conditions for Ginkgo Tree: Bonsai Ginkgo Tree Care

Bonsai trees made from Ginkgos are beautiful additions to any garden or sunlit indoor living space.

In the early stages of a plant’s life, it retains water efficiently and pretty much does Ginkgo Tree care of itself.

It will need regular watering to attain the best growing conditions for Ginkgo Tree, however, if it has not yet sent out extensive feeder roots that have branched off from the taproots.9 So always supply enough water for your potted plants, especially during the extra dry summer months, and always be mindful of overwatering.

Compared to Ginkgo Trees grown outside, potted ones require additional care in the form of regular fertilization as there is a limited amount of soil nutrients available in the container.

Simply putting it in the watering can from March will ensure that your Ginkgo gets the nitrogen and potassium it needs to grow rapidly and efficiently.

Pruning is also of prime importance and it’s best to trim the crown of the plant early when the plant is still young so it becomes trained to grow in a certain way and to keep them compact.

When doing so, remove all but two leaves from a new long shoot as soon as it has developed five or six leaves. Any large cuts or aggressive trims should be avoided, with routinely thinning out young, tender shoots a more effective method.

Younger trees that have not long been planted are more vulnerable to frost damage. It is recommended that in the first few years after planting, it is provided with adequate winter protection in the form of hessian or fleece coverings.

In conditions where the winter is particularly cold, choose an area indoors that is light and cool, and that is suitable for overwintering your potted Ginkgo Bonsai Tree.

Types of Ginkgo Trees (Maidenhair Trees And Ginkgo Tree Leaves)

If you are to ask about the types of Ginkgo Trees, there is only one species of the Ginkgo Tree, just one genus, the Ginkgo, and just one lone member of the family Ginkgoaceae.

It has leaves that are similar to those of the Maidenhair fern, only a lot bigger, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the Maidenhair tree.

In the wild, it is classified as an endangered species but its strong presence is felt throughout the United States where it is grown as a shade as well as an ornamental tree.

As it is one of those types of trees that has seemingly been around forever, botanists have taken an interest in expanding the species and have cultivated numerous plants10 that are just as pest and disease-resistant – and just as charming.

Here are just 11 of them:

1. Autumn Gold Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Autumn Gold)

Slow-growing, this is a strikingly beautiful cultivar when the leaves turn from green to gold in the autumn. Botanists have produced this Ginkgo to be males only so no pungent fruits can be grown.

It is crowned by a wide, symmetrical crown that casts a wide shadow until the leaves are shed in the fall. But even then the newly formed golden carpet of two-lobed leaves spread around the base creates a spectacle of itself – in a good way.

Height: 30-50 feet

Close-up image of the Autumn Gold Maidenhair Tree Leaf.

(Image: David Stang22)

2. Boleslaw Chrobry Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Boleslaw Chrobry)

This tree is somewhat of a rarity in the United States. It has the traditional large deciduous leaves of the Ginkgo Tree that form a beautiful weeping crown that is more impressive due to the stature of the tree.

It is a dwarf cultivar and when placed in just the right sunkist spot, it’s just as much a centerpiece as the tallest of trees.

Height: 5 feet

3. Elmwood Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Elmwood)

This low-care tree can be used as a vertical garden feature, a shade tree, or an ornamental plant, depending on how it is pruned. As an upright column, it resembles a row of golden soldiers in the fall when the distinctive two-lobed leaves become even more outstanding with the change of color.

Very low-maintenance, it can continue to grow for over 150 short years.

Height: 35 feet

An image of the Elmwood Maidenhair Tree with its bright yellowish-orange canopy.

(Image: James St. John23)

4. Folkert’s Select Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Folkert’s)

The medium green leaves of the Folkert’s Select Maidenhair Tree become a brilliant golden-yellow in the autumn. This small tree is ideal for Bonsai Trees for indoor use and for container growing in gardens as long as where they are placed is blessed with sufficient sunlight.

Height: 10-15 ft

5. Golden Globe Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Golden Globe)

A popular cultivar, the Golden Globe Maidenhair Tree has a distinguished rounded crown and a foliar display of light- to dark-green leaves that always turn to gold towards the end of the year.

Slow-growing, these cultivars are resistant to bothersome pests and invasive diseases, but more importantly none of the Golden Globe Maidenhair Trees will bear fruit11 as they are all made male.

Height: 40-50 ft

A full view of the Maidenhair Tree in an open space in London with its fluffy-look of yellow leaves.

(Image: Jim Linwood24)

6. Kohout Weeping Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Kohout Pendula)

This small weeping Maidenhair tree has an umbrella-shaped crown full of drooping, deeply split, light to medium green leaves. It is just as enchanting when the foliage is all green as when it transforms into the brilliant yellow-gold in the fall.

For a male Ginkgo, there is no need to fear smelly berries popping out in the spring, and then creating a not-so-pleasant aroma when they ripen around the base when they fall off.

Height: 4-8 ft

7. Liberty Splendor Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Liberty Splendor)

This is a female Ginkgo Tree so expect there to be fruits.

It is a firm favorite in Asia, however, where the fruits are considered a treat and the seeds roasted to have the same taste as chestnuts.

It naturally grows into a pyramidal shape as it matures and is often arranged in rows along walkways to showcase the golden leaves when they are still attached to the branches and brighten the area when they are strewn across the ground.

Height: 25-30 ft

Close up image of a light green leaf of the Liberty Splendor Maidenhair Tree.

(Image: Jakub Fryš25)

Sunlit green leaves on Ginkgo Biloba Majestic Butterfly tree in a lush, natural setting.

(Image: Hans26)

8. Majestic Butterfly Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Majestic Butterfly)

What sets this cultivar apart from the others is the variegation on the leaves. They still turn golden yellow in the fall but before that, they display mixed colors of yellow, green, and creamy white.

It doesn’t grow very tall and makes an eye-catching ornamental tree in any sized landscape no matter where it is placed.

Height: 6 feet

9. Mariken Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Mariken)

A dwarf variant, it nevertheless has a thick wide-spreading canopy. As a male, there will be no nasty fruit surprises.

Due to its small size, it is often grown in a container, or pruned to be a diminutive bonsai tree so even when the golden leaves have fallen, it still has a charming presence in the sunlit corner of the room.

Height: 3 feet

A photo of the young leaves Mariken Ginkgo Biloba planted on a pot.

(Image: Ben Skála27)

A view of the bright yellow canopy of the Ginkgoi Biloba Menhir Tree.

(Image: PROPOLI8728)

10. Menhir Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Menhir)

Menhir Maidenhair Tree is a deciduous Ginkgo that is actually native to the Netherlands. It has one of the narrowest frames with foliage that appears to have a special blue-green tint.

Pendulous, clusters of yellow male flowers which are really catkins12 erupt in the spring to enhance the tree’s appearance. An excellent specimen as a landscape centerpiece.

Height: 16 ft

11. Saratoga Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo Biloba Saratoga)

Because it is a fruitless male and tolerates city living with all the air pollutants associated with it, the saratoga is often chosen to decorate sidewalks. It has large leaves on wide branches so it casts a welcome shade for the inhabitants on summer days.

It becomes a further spectacle in the fall when the leaves turn a crisp golden yellow before gently tumbling free and clear.

Height: 50 ft

A close up view of the young leaves of Ginkgo Biloba Saratoga.

(Image: Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova29)

How To Identify The Ginkgo Tree Leaf (Types Of Ginkgo Tree Leaves)

The unique two-lobed structure of the Ginkgo Tree leaf is probably the main distinguishing feature of the Ginkgo Tree.

Yet not all the leaves on every single cultivar are the same. Not all of them look like fans, or duck feet, or have identical coloration.

Learning to differentiate between them will pinpoint more accurately their planting zones, which one will be shade trees, and how far apart to plant Ginkgo Trees to prevent canopy entanglement or the war of the roots.

Bernheim Arboretum

With an irregular shape, the leaf is uncommon in that it is very round with several slits along the edges.

Beijing Gold

The streaky variegation makes a bold statement that is hard to miss and easily identifies this variation.

The leaves are medium-large and the variegation remains just as prominent throughout the year.


The leaves are an astonishing bright green with wrinkled edges that have a thin gold line running along them.


So new that it is hard if not a rare find in the marketplace, this is a new addition from Belgium whose faint green color at the base of the leaf tapers off into an almost white-yellow.

Jagged Jade

The leaves of the Jagged Jade have a coarse texture, with an undulating edge and undoubtedly one of the bluest colors in the family, which, strangely, tends to get darker instead of lighter as the year draws to a close.


A fascinating specimen, it has small, bright green globe-like leaves that look more like miniature roses than the traditional Ginkgo13 leaves.

Little Joe

The tiny 2 cm leaves have a bright olive green color that adds a tinge of blue every year or so to make it look even more special.


The Mayfield probably resembles a fan more than any other cultivar. It has unbroken perfectly formed semi-circle leaves that are a tad on the lime green side.


The leaves of this type have the endearing habit of curling around themselves to form tubes more like bells than fans. Definitely a distinctive trait that makes it a garden standout.

Yellow Dragon

The variegation of the leaves is between a bright yellow and a creamy white interspersed with full green leaves on the same tree at the same time. All the leaves go brown in the fall, and despite their color differences, desert the tree at the same moment.

Ginkgo Biloba Tree Problems: Ginkgo Tree Disease Prevention

One of the redeeming features of Ginkgo Trees is that they are very resistant to diseases and invasive pests. With this, it is easy to manage Ginkgo Biloba Tree problems and to work on Ginkgo Tree disease prevention.

Being drought-tolerant trees, they have also become hardened to live in unpleasant neighborhoods where the soil and air pollutants are not of the premium quality other trees are accustomed to.

But that’s not to say they are completely invulnerable. The one disease that can destroy a Ginkgo Tree is honey fungus.

It will assault your tree if you do not adhere to the watering needs for Ginkgo Tree plants specific to your planting zone.

What makes the honey fungus so dangerous is that it targets the roots, causing a white growth to infect the bark and the very wood of the tree, creeping upwards and inwards.

It festers underground, and the first sign that it is destroying your prized Ginkgo Tree is the cluster of honey-colored mushrooms spread around the base in the autumn.

After that, the plant’s upper sections wither away and perish slowly and painfully.

Already under some serious pressure, root system failure can occur rapidly during hot, dry spells, or it can occur gradually over the course of several years when branches die off seemingly for no reason.

Other signs to watch out for are:

  • Once dark green leaves may appear paler and smaller than usual.
  • The flowers may not emerge or may be reduced in numbers in spring while on the female tree, there will be an abnormally large fruit harvest.
  • A foul smell that is distinct and not associated with the overripe fruits lying around the base of the tree.
  • Sap leaking from the bark.
  • Visible cracks in the stems.

This particularly nasty fungal infection can be instigated by discarded plant or organic14 material spread too close to the tree, and once it emerges figuring out how to stop Ginkgo Tree disease.  This is not as easy as spraying it with some chemical countermeasures – because there aren’t any.

All diseased root and stump debris must be removed and disposed of in a landfill or burned if the honey fungus is proven to be the culprit.

Even if the infection is already present in the soil but has not infected your tree yet, an effective preventative method is to erect a barrier around your roots.

To do this, dig a narrow, vertical trench around the base and bury a strip of a heavy-duty plastic sheet or pond lining about 45cm deep, leaving about an inch of it sticking above the surface.

Once that is in place the fungus will be unable to penetrate it.

The roots are the parts of a tree that are constantly overlooked and forgotten. To better protect them, and properly care for your Ginkgo Tree, you should always consider mulching.

Mulching Around Trees

This simple procedure of mulching around trees can be instrumental in the well-being of your plants by protecting the roots and retaining moisture in the soil. But if applied incorrectly it can lead to the demise of even these hardy, drought-tolerant trees.

After planting a tree, the best thing you can do is surround it with a ring of mulch, especially if the tree is less than 10 years old.

Doing so will improve soil quality, shield plants from damage caused by too much foot traffic and lawn equipment that can compact the soil, and prevent the growth of weeds that will selfishly absorb water and nutrients away from your plant.

In the case of a Ginkgo Tree that lives an urban lifestyle, everyday life can be hard with much-needed microbial life and organic nutrients squeezed out and becoming absent in the ground beneath its roots.

By covering the ground with mulch, a more natural environment similar to that found in forests, an environment where leaves and branches act as a natural nutrition sink and enhance root development.

When applied properly, mulching is one of the best things a homeowner or landscaper can do for a tree or a shrub to offset the often harsh conditions simple human interaction can expose the plant to on a daily basis.

Organic and inorganic mulches are the two most common types.

The inorganic types deliver fewer benefits as they do not contain any decomposing matter to enrich the soil, its function is mainly to keep weeds at bay.

Organic mulches that contain old leaves, compost, and wood chips, are highly recommended. A layer of 2-4 inches is capable of reviving a flagging tree’s health15 by boosting the fertility level of the soil.

Different types of organic mulch break down at different rates based on the material composition and need to be replenished at different intervals.

The following are some of the many advantages of mulching:

  • It helps the soil retain moisture by reducing premature evaporation on hot days and boosts water infiltration as the soil becomes less compacted.
  • As it decomposes, it enhances soil structure, fertility, and air circulation.
  • It acts as an insulator, keeping the roots cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. This reduction in stress helps the tree to remain healthy.
  • It suppresses the growth of weeds, and grass, and creates a lawnmower-free zone around the trunk so there is less chance of any bark accidental bumps that can cause injuries that can become infected.

It is possible, and this mistake is repeatedly made, to apply mulch in the wrong way and lay down too much of it.

Mulch can be applied in almost any season, but just as when to plant Ginkgo Tree for the best yield is important, so is the moment of spreading mulch.

Spring is the optimal time after the soil temperatures have risen enough for root growth.

  1. Apply mulch all the way to the edge of the tree’s canopy, known as the drip line.
  2. Spreading a layer 4 inches thick should be the maximum, but less should be put down if the soil has poor drainage. Any more than 4 inches will restrict airflow reaching the roots and could lead to the death of the tree.
  3. Keep the mulch away from the trunk. Always, always leave a ring of dirt around the base. A common mistake that can be disastrous is where a mound of mulch is made. This is where the mulch is pushed up, on, and around the first few feet of the trunk. Do this and instead of assisting the roots by retaining the water in the soil, the mulch will suffocate the roots by cutting them off from this vital resource.
  4. Replenish or replace the mulch every year as needed and extend it further to the drip line if the canopy has expanded.
  5. If any mulch blows up against the tree, rake it back.

The time for how long it takes to grow Ginkgo Tree to maturity can be increased by mulching, but just remember to not try and speed up the process by over-mulching. Too much of a good thing can have bad consequences so spread carefully.

Mistakes can happen but don’t make the avoidable ones when mulching that can kill your tree.

Common Pests of the Ginkgo Tree (Natural Pest Control For Ginkgo Tree)

There are several harmless yet annoying bugs that didn’t get the memo that pests do not bother Ginkgo Trees.

This rarely happens but occasionally common pests of the Ginkgo Tree such as cicada bugs, loopers,16 and other types of caterpillars decide to have a go at gnawing through every leaf on the tree as fast as they can before being caught in the act.

Fortunately, this only happens in unusual circumstances, and most random caterpillars may be removed from the tree by hand. These shuffling Ginkgo pests can also be managed organically by releasing natural predators like lacewings and assassin bugs that will pick them off hungrily one by one.

There is a microbial insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis that proves to be effective at managing these pests but is not really needed.

This is because most pests that have a go at munching through the leaves quickly discover that the rumors were true, that there is a natural repellant within the tree’s structure, or natural pest control for Ginkgo Tree.

There are two compounds found within Ginkgo Trees that make them so insect-proof called ginkgolide and bilobalide. Both are toxic to pests once they’ve had a taste of it.

Bilobalide is harmless to humans but ginkgolide can cause serious bleeding if large amounts of it are consumed through the fruits.

Once released when the leaves or other parts of the tree are bitten into, the insects are quickly repelled and depart for greener pastures. Fortunately, there are no adverse effects on the surrounding ecosystem so other fauna close by are not threatened.

Harmful insecticides and pesticides are being sprayed constantly all over the world in an effort to protect food crops and precious plants, but often the price paid in the form of climate damage is just too much.

If the power of this very effective and clean insecticide could be harnessed and replicated, it would revolutionize the industry.

The stumbling block is that bilobalide is difficult to synthesize.

It has a complicated carbon-skeleton structure of 8 oxygen atoms, and it is proving to be challenging to replicate the sequence accurately.

A breakthrough could be just around the corner as scientists are forging ahead resolutely and undaunted and when that happens, one of if not the most natural insecticides in the world will be available for other plants to be just as protected as the Ginkgo Tree.

Companion Plants For Growing Ginkgo Trees (Interplanting Ginko Flower)

Sometimes just watering a tree isn’t enough and companion plants for growing Ginkgo Tree are needed.

To grow a tree, even one as easy to grow as a Ginkgo, involves understanding how long does it take for a tree to grow within your hardiness zone.

How much sunlight does Ginkgo Tree need each day when transplanted as a seedling or as a young tree, has also got to be factored into the equation.

As early as the planning stage of your landscape, consider what companion plants can be placed near or around the area to improve tree pollination, or just improve the aesthetics of your garden with the help of Ginko flower.

So which flowers or plants will complement a Ginkgo Tree?

  • Ferns17 are a good choice as they have a link to the Ginkgo Tree so will appreciate the same type of habitat, and can be incorporated as an attractive ground cover.
  • Hostas are excellent at attracting pollinators such as hummingbirds that literally add life to the garden, and the right variety will add depth and different shades of green to the foliage so it’s not all monotone.
  • Flowers that will thrive in the shadow of a Ginkgo Tree that summer scents and brightly-colored petals can easily transform any portion of your garden, especially if they are perennials.

These resilient trees are very fortunate in that they do not need to rely on companion plants to boost their survival, just to make them look good.

If you can combine plants that will help you create a more beautiful garden and encourage improved nutrient availability in the soil at the same time, all the better.

How Much Carbon Does Ginkgo Tree Sequester

So, how much carbon does Ginkgo Tree sequester? Trees play a pivotal role in the health of the entire planet. They have the natural ability to absorb CO2 and other pollutants from the surrounding atmosphere and offset the harm caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

This carbon sequestration has been functioning perfectly for millennia, maintaining a finely-tuned balance across the world between adverse human activities that damage the planet, and plants that heal it.

That environmental balance is no longer working.

Land development, extensive cattle and arable farming, and deforestation on a never-before-seen scale, are all contributing towards creating an imbalance with more trees than ever being cut down, and not enough planted in their stead.

Even large forest fires across the world in Australia, the Amazon, and parts of the United States have devastated thousands of acres. Considering that as much as 30% of the worldwide production of CO2 can be absorbed by trees, losing ever-increasing swathes of forests is only exacerbating the problems caused by climate change.

Cities and urban landscapes that have Ginkgo Trees are contributing towards the removal of pollutants that have been proven to cause asthma and other related health issues.

Every year, one mature Ginkgo Tree can sequester 105.8 lb of CO2, which sounds like a lot but is not as impressive compared to some Eucalyptus18 trees that capture over 900 lb.

Species, age, and the size of the tree are factors in the amount of carbon absorbed. This fact pinpoints the drawback of uprooting an ancient tree that can sequester tons of CO2, and replace it with a seedling that has nowhere near the same capacity.

It can be equated to substituting an experienced football player with a 5-year-old and expecting similar results.

In an ideal world, if a tree has to be cut down to make way for urban planning or even farming, the tree planted in its stead should either be a fast-grower or more of them should be planted to compensate for the loss of the amount of carbon sequestration from the older and bigger one.

On planet Earth, balance is everything.

Ginkgo Tree Facts

Just because the Ginkgo Tree has seemingly been around forever, doesn’t mean that everyone knows all there is to know about it.

Below are the Ginkgo Tree facts:

  • The Ginkgo Tree grows between 1-2 feet a year.
  • Ginkgolide, the substance that wards off pests and resists diseases, is an ingredient in some extremely popular herbal medicines sold throughout Europe.
  • After the Hiroshima nuclear bombing in WWII, it was found that 4 Ginkgo Trees had miraculously survived the devastation.
  • The oldest Ginkgo Tree is estimated to be 3,500 years old in China, while in the United Kingdom Kew Gardens has a healthy specimen that was planted in 1762.
  • Unlike most deciduous trees, Ginkgos do a simultaneous leaf drop in the fall rather than peeling off one by one.
  • The previous monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated the 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens by planting a Ginkgo Tree in a section of the gardens called the Orangery.
  • Ginkgo Biloba is often prescribed to help short-term memory loss.
  • It is used in France to fight the effects of aging.
  • Out of all the trees lining the sidewalks in Manhattan, the Ginkgo Tree is the most prevalent.
  • The Ginkgo Tree is dioecious, either male or female, but sometimes the male tree can turn into a female one.

The Benefits Of The Ancient Ginkgo Biloba

Many parts of the Ginkgo Tree have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and have also been used to treat kidney and bladder diseases, asthma, and bronchitis.19

A graphic that shows the health benefits of ginkgo biloba such as for inflammation, antioxidant, hearth health and blood flow, improved eyesight, migraines, asthma and COPD and it can boost memory.

Today, Ginkgo leaf extract is touted as a dietary supplement for a wide range of health issues, and there are ongoing studies into the efficacy and risks of taking medications with Ginkgo as a primary ingredient, some of which are listed below.


Ginkgo extract has been found to reduce inflammation caused by certain injuries or illnesses. During an inflammatory reaction, several parts of the immune system are mobilized to repair the damage, and the extract is purported to help speed up the healing process.

Heart Health and Blood Flow

Ginkgo has been shown to have positive impacts on cardiovascular health, brain health, and stroke prevention, possibly in part due to the plant’s anti-inflammatory chemicals and capacity to boost blood flow.


The Ginkgo Tree is an expert at targeting free radicals.

Flavonoids and terpenoids, found in abundance in the Ginkgo, are powerful antioxidants that prevent or lessen the harm caused by free radicals. Meaning that the body’s metabolism is more active, and anxiety is reduced.

Improved Eyesight

Supplementing with Ginkgo may enhance blood flow to the eyes, but this does not necessarily translate to better eyesight. It may slow down macular degeneration in the elderly, but more studies are necessary to determine if it can make you see better.

Asthma and COPD

Ginkgo’s anti-inflammatory chemicals are likely responsible for this effect, which could lead to less swelling in the bronchi and improved breathing.

In one study, 75 patients with asthma were given Ginkgo extract in addition to glucocorticosteroid medicine to treat their condition.

Those who took Ginkgo had reduced amounts of inflammatory chemicals in their saliva compared to those who took only conventional medicine.

While promising, these findings highlight the need for additional study into the use of Ginkgo to treat respiratory diseases.


The use of Ginkgo as a remedy for headaches and migraines20 has been commonplace in traditional Chinese medicine since time immemorial.

Western medical practitioners are not wholly convinced of the efficacy, but the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Ginkgo have been common knowledge in the East for centuries.

Ginkgo may help relieve headaches and migraines brought on by stress because of the Gnkgo extract’s capacity to widen blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and improve blood flow.

Boosting Memory

Ginkgo may have a beneficial effect on cognitive performance in healthy elderly people. Supplementing with Ginkgo may boost memory retention and increase levels of concentration.

There are possible adverse side effects to supplementing with Ginkgo extracts so care should be exercised if you have any allergies, or if you are taking any other medications.

Commercially, Ginkgo Biloba can be purchased for supplementation as tea, in capsule and tablet forms, and as liquids.

If you can picture this historic tree in your life, not for its medicinal uses, but standing in the center of your garden or backyard, rest assured that the Ginkgo Tree is stunning at any time of year, as long as it is the male version.

The Ginkgo Tree: The Oldest Tree In The World

Well, it’s not exactly the oldest tree, that honor belongs to Methuselah, but it is one of the oldest tree species on the planet.

Planting one in your backyard will be the same as owning a little bit of history, and it will elevate your garden aesthetics to another stunning level.

But the main show of the year will come in the fall.

It’s quite a sight when every single one of the leaves suddenly drops from the branches together in a dramatic fashion from your majestic Ginkgo Tree.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Ginkgo Tree

Are Ginkgo Trees Invasive?

Are Ginkgo Trees invasive? No, they are not invasive.

Where Do Ginkgo Trees Grow?

To know where do Ginkgo Trees grow, well-draining soil that remains moist and doesn’t dry out quickly is the ideal substrate.

Do Trees Have Genders?

So, do trees have genders? Trees tend to be hermaphroditic, meaning their blossoms have both male and female organs. A flower21 that has stamens is male, and releases pollen, and female flowers have pistils, which contain eggs. But the trees themselves are neither male nor female.

What Color Is the Ginkgo Tree Flower?

The Ginkgo Tree flower is green at first and then turns yellow.

What is Ginkgo Tree Symbolism?

Peace, longevity, and hope are the Ginkgo Tree symbolism.


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