Ginkgo biloba (L)
Ginkgoaceae (Ginkgo) Family
Autumn leaf of Ginkgo
Ginkgo is the only one of its family worldwide. The plant may also be known as Maidenhair-tree.
The tree is deciduous with a straight trunk and open, pyramid-shaped crown, becoming wide-spreading and irregular with age. The tree has no flowers or fruit. Its height is 50 to 70 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet. Its preferred habitat is lawns and along streets in moist soil, in humid temperate zones. Distribution is occasional in the Escambia region as an ornamental or one that has persisted in an area after the homestead has been abandoned. Ginkgo is not known in a totally wild state.
The leaves are fan-shaped, 3 to 5 in a cluster on spurs, or may be alternate on the stem. Leaf size is 1 to 2 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide; slightly thickened and wavy on the broad edge, often two-lobed, with fine forking parallel veins but no mid-vein, long leaf stalks. The color is dull light green, turning yellow in autumn.
The seeds and male cones are on separate trees in early spring. The seed is approximately 1 inch long, elliptical, yellowish, with thin juicy pulp of foul odor and large thick-walled edible kernel. Male or pollen cones are about 3/4 inch long.
Ginkgo is best known as a living fossil related to conifers and the sole survivor of its ancient family. The tree has long been cultivated and possibly preserved from extinction by Buddhist priests on temple grounds in China, Japan, and Korea. The seeds, or Ginkgo nuts, are eaten in the Orient.. The name "Maidenhair-tree" alludes to the resemblance of the leaves to the Maidenhair Fern. This hardy tree is resistant to smoke, dust, wind, ice, insect pests, and disease.