Ginkgo biloba is a gorgeous deciduous tree with huge fan-shaped leaves that turn a dazzling buttery yellow color in the autumn. On this tall, elegant shade tree, the unusual ginkgo tree leaves create dense foliage and form a pyramidal crown. Ginkgo trees grow in loamy, well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade, and in growing zones 3 to 9. They are also known as the maidenhair tree.
The Ginkgo biloba tree can be identified using this article. Recognize ginkgo trees in landscapes by learning about the tree leaves, fruit, and other identifying features.
Gingko Tree Facts
The genus Ginkgo and the family Ginkgoaceae are home to only one species, ginkgo trees, which grow in autumn. The gymnosperm family includes the ginkgo tree (sometimes spelt as gingko), which is closely connected to conifers. Ginkgo trees, like conifers, don’t create actual flowers.
Ginkgo trees have a broadly spreading pyramidal crown that grows up to 60 feet (18 meters) wide and grows 50 to 75 feet (15 to 23 meters) high. The branches of the slow-growing tree begin to sag as it develops, necessitating trimming for clearance beneath its low canopy. Ginkgo trees, on the other hand, are resistant to breaking due to their heavy branches and trunk.
An interesting fact about ginkgo trees: The Hiroshima bombing in 1945 only destroyed four ginkgo trees, which are still alive and well today. Ginkgo trees, which are native to China and the Far East, are some of the world’s oldest trees. Because the species has remained unchanged since the Jurassic period, ginkgoes are referred to as “living fossils.”
In Asian culture, ginkgo biloba trees are very significant. Confucius is said to have sat for hours thinking, reading, and writing beneath a ginkgo tree. In Japan, the leaves of the ginkgo tree are utilized as bookmarks since they have chemical properties that inhibit booklice from attacking books. Traditional Chinese medicine makes extensive use of ginkgo extracts.
Male Ginkgo Tree Vs. Female Ginkgo Tree
The male and female ginkgo trees are distinct trees, making them dioecious. The kind of “flowers” and the edible seed that male and female ginkgo trees produce are the differences between them. The fruit of female ginkgo trees is notorious for its pungent odor.
Male ginkgo tree
The long drooping cones of the male ginkgo tree, which bloom in mid-spring, distinguish it from the female ginkgo tree. Pollen is also produced by the seed-bearing cones. Spirally arranged around a central axis, finger-like catkins grow. Male ginkgo trees with green catkins growing alongside new leaves are frequently depicted in photographs.
Female ginkgo tree
Orangey globular fruits hanging in dangling clusters distinguish the female Ginkgo biloba tree. A single huge seed is found inside each round fruit. The offensive smell from the fruit is the most common complaint about ginkgo trees. Female ginkgo fruit also has a particularly nasty slimy flesh.
People report that the odor of rotting ginkgo tree “fruit” is similar to raw dog feces, canine feces, or rancid butter. Until it’s planted, it’s impossible to distinguish a male ginkgo from a female ginkgo tree. It may take a long time before you know if you have a male ginkgo tree or a smelly female ginkgo tree, since it takes 15 to 20 years for the fruit to mature.
Ginkgo Tree Leaves
Among the species of trees, ginkgo leaves are particularly distinctive. Fan-shaped ginkgo leaves with rounded lobes and veins extending out are the most common form. The leaves on ginkgo trees are 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long, with the largest measuring 6 inches (15 cm). In the autumn, ginkgo leaves acquire magnificent hues of dazzling yellow. The distinctive leaf form is referred to by the botanical term “ginkgo.” The two lobes that commonly make up ginkgo leaves are known as biloba, which means rounded lobe.
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum) leaves look a lot like ginkgo biloba leaves. The ginkgo tree is also known as the maidenhair tree for this reason. Ginkgo leaves lose their color very quickly in the autumn, which is a distinctive feature. The ginkgo tree’s tendency to form a spectacular golden yellow carpet beneath itself has resulted in a stunning sight. The ginkgo tree is popular in urban landscapes because of its stunning fall color.
Ginkgo Tree Flower
In the botanical sense, ginkgo “flowers” are actually female (left) and male (right). Flowers are yellowish-green finger-like shoots that emerge from the male trees. Pollen is produced by the 3 inch (8 cm) long “flowers,” which are fertilized by the female tree. Female ginkgo trees have long green stalks with ovules at the end, which resemble flowers.
Non-flowering gymnosperm plants include Gingko trees. These plants don’t develop fruits and produce seeds that aren’t enclosed in an ovary. ree “flowers” are plant components that emerge alongside the leaves and bloom in April and May.
Ginkgo Nuts (Gingko Fruit)
Ginkgo biloba nuts are tiny spherical flesh-covered seeds borne on the end of a long stalk. The crabapple-like fruits, which are the size of a cherry when mature, change from white to yellow-orange color. The seeds have some mild toxic elements, and the fleshy coating contains some moderate toxins. They may be eaten in modest amounts since some of them break down when roasted.
Ginkgo fruit is recognized for its ability to make a stinky mess. The soft “fruits” of a single ginkgo tree are prolific, and the slimy, stinky flesh squashes easily underfoot. After that, the squashed fruit emits a pungent odor that has been likened to spoiled Camembert cheese or regurgitated gastric fluids.
Ginkgo Tree Identification
The green, leathery, fan-shaped leaves with two rounded lobes are the easiest way to identify a Ginkgo biloba tree. In the fall, the rich green leaves turn yellow. The light gray or brown bark of the ginkgo tree, as well as the distinctive stench that emanates from falling cherry-like fruits, are other distinguishing characteristics. Ginkgo tree bark is used to treat bleeding disorders.
Common Ginkgo Tree Varieties
There are numerous varieties and cultivars of the Ginkgo biloba tree, despite the fact that it is only one species. To avoid the awful stench of ginkgo fruits, most people prefer male ginkgo trees. For garden landscapes, here are a few of the best ginkgo trees:
‘Fairmount’—A narrow, upright growth pattern characterizes this columnar ginkgo tree. The ginkgo ‘Fairmont’ tree grows 50 to 75 feet (15 to 22 meters) tall and 15 feet (4.5 meters) broad, making it ideal for tiny areas. Since it’s a male tree, it won’t produce smelly fruit.
‘Autumn Gold’—The brilliant yellow fall foliage of a male form of Ginkgo biloba is well-known. The ginkgo tree grows 50 feet (15 meters) tall and 30 feet (9 meters) broad, with a conical crown.
‘Chase Manhattan’—A dwarf cultivar of a shrub-like ginkgo tree. This small ginkgo tree, sometimes known as ‘Bon’s Dwarf,’ has smaller leaves than typical ginkgoes and grows to be 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall.
‘Majestic Butterfly’—The fan-shaped green leaves with streaked yellow variegation on this magnificent variegated ginkgo tree are stunning. Ginkgo trees range in height from 10 to 3 feet (3 to 1 m).
‘Pendula’—This ginkgo male tree cultivar is distinguished by its umbrella-shaped crown and huge leaves. The branches of this weeping ginkgo tree arch up to a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter, making it more like a weeping ginkgo tree. It may grow up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall.
How to Use Ginkgo Trees in Landscapes
The fan-shaped leaves of ginkgo trees, which turn golden yellow in the autumn, make them appealing landscaping trees. Ginkgo trees are also ideal shade trees in huge gardens due to their tall stature and broad, spreading crown. Ginkgo trees are also rather easy to care for since they are resistant to pests and diseases.
There are numerous all-male dwarf cultivars to choose from if you have a small, compact garden. This prevents foul-smelling, skidish fruits from covering your yard when they tumble in the autumn.
How to Grow a Ginkgo Tree in Garden Landscapes
Ginkgo biloba is a robust plant that can thrive in a variety of environmental conditions and is the world’s oldest tree species. Hardy trees are also resistant to a variety of environmental factors, such as cold, heat, drought, pests, illness, polluted soil, and urban pollution. In your front or backyard, here are some helpful advice for growing a ginkgo biloba tree.
Where it receives between four and six hours of sunlight every day, plant a maidenhair tree in full sun or partial shade. Since extreme heat may harm ginkgo’s development in hotter regions, it thrives best in partial sun. During hot summers, keep the tree well-watered to encourage healthy development throughout lengthy, dry spells.
Ginkgo trees grow in a variety of soil types. Ginkgo will grow well in well-drained soil of any sort, be it acidic or alkaline. The quickest development occurs in sandy or loamy soil. Ginkgo, on the other hand, may tolerate compacted or clay soil.
Maidenhair trees grow well in USDA zones 3 to 9 and can tolerate a broad range of temperature and moisture circumstances. Ginkgo growth, on the other hand, may be harmed by hot, arid conditions. In moderate heat, on the other hand, a mature established ginkgo tree is very drought tolerant.
How to Water a Ginkgo Tree — Ginkgo Water Requirements
A ginkgo tree, like most landscape trees, has a moderate water requirement. In arid situations or long periods of sunlight, mature ginkgo trees only need additional watering. To help establish a deep root system, a newly planted ginkgo tree needs watering every few days. In waterlogged soil, ginkgo trees struggle.
Use a hose to thoroughly water the root area of a ginkgo tree. Make sure that you give the roots enough water to get down to. However, it’s important to remember that a ginkgo only needs to be watered every now and then, and typically only when the weather is hot and dry. This ancient tree can be watered in most situations with normal rain. The importance of a well-draining soil when deciding where to place a tree cannot be overstated.
Ginkgo Tree Fertilization — How to Fertilize Ginkgo
Late in the winter or early in the spring, maidenhair trees benefit from fertilizer. You may employ a balanced slow-release tree fertilizer with an NPK rating of 12-12-12 since ginkgo isn’t a species of flowering tree. You may spread rotting manure or a layer of compost to the root zone instead of fertilizing the ginkgo.
Fertilizing a freshly planted ginkgo tree is not required. Instead, during the first two years of its life, water the plant on a regular basis. Then, twice a year from year three onwards, you can apply a balanced tree fertilizer. During drought or winter, it’s also a good idea to refrain from fertilizing ginkgo trees. In addition, if a ginkgo tree is growing beside a fertilized lawn, you don’t have to apply fertilizer. The lawn fertilizer nutrients will be absorbed by the root system.
How to Prune a Ginkgo Tree — Advice for Trimming Ginkgo
During its dormancy, late fall, winter, or early spring are the best times to prune a maidenhair tree. Pruning allows the tree to heal before it begins to grow vigorously in the spring during the winter months. Dead branches, suckers, and drooping branches are the only ones you need to trim yearly.
Ginkgo trees can be trimmed down to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, if necessary. After that, follow the ginkgo tree’s development and trim its branches. Different pruning requirements apply to a columnar ginkgo tree, a spreading canopy ginkgo, or a dwarf ginkgo tree. You can stop yearly pruning after the ginkgo tree grows more than 6 feet (1.8 meters). If you need to increase clearance from the tree’s canopy to the ground, or if you want to remove dead or decaying branches, simply trim a mature ginkgo tree.
Ginkgo Propagation — How to Propagate and Root Ginkgo Cuttings
Cutting a maidenhair tree is one of the simplest and quickest methods to spread it. In the early summer, take 6″ to 7″ (15 – 18 cm) branch cuttings. Next, mix perlite into a light potting soil mixture and put the cut ends in. Make sure the land is kept moist, not soggy. Ginkgo cuttings take six to eight weeks to root.
From a street tree, you may have taken ginkgo tree cuttings. In that case, you should make sure you’re taking cuttings from a male tree. Look for the distinctive arching yellowish-green catkins on male trees in late spring or early summer. In the autumn, this will help you avoid rotting- fruit issues.
Propagating Ginkgo from Seed — How to Plant Ginkgo Seeds
You may grow a ginkgo tree from seed planted inside the ginkgo berries, which you may harvest throughout late fall. A fleshy pulp should be removed from the ginkgo nut. Since the seed’s outer layer might cause dermatitis when collecting them, you should wear gloves.
Wet a paper towel and seal it in a plastic bag before planting ginkgo seeds. Fold the paper towel over the seeds and seal the bag after placing them on it. Place it in a warm, well-lit environment for six weeks. Mimic the natural cold winters that ginkgo trees experience by storing the sealed bag in the fridge from then on.
Remove the seeds after three months and scrape the skin with sandpaper to reveal the layer underneath. To create the optimum germinating environment, combine moist peat moss with perlite. Place the seeds in a thin layer of soil. Put it in a warm location and cover with plastic. In one to two months, keep the soil moist and the seeds will germinate. Remove the plastic bag when the seeds have sprouted and grow as usual.
The ginkgo tree takes a long time to grow. Therefore, before you need to plant it in the garden, you may enjoy a ginkgo tree as a lovely houseplant for many years. If you don’t have enough space in your garden for a big shade tree, ginkgo biloba trees are another popular bonsai tree.
How to Deal with Pests Affecting Ginkgo Growth
Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids have little impact on ginkgo trees. Caterpillars may occasionally bite into ginkgo leaves, although this is unusual. Caterpillars can be exterminated and your tree protected by hand-picking them and dropping them in washing water.
How to Control Diseases Affecting Ginkgo Tree Growth
Ginkgo biloba is a millennia-old tree that has been around since the beginning of time. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that trees are resistant to diseases. Disease in ginkgo tree roots, however, may sometimes cause growth problems. Always make sure that the soil drains well and water does not pool around the root areas to avoid diseases like phytophthora root rot.