Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ginkgo Tree

(The above image forwarded by the Paul Parent Garden Club)

Hello again,

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club ( sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website ( to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM.

Here is some of what Paul had to say this past week:

"This spring, when you are considering planting something new in your yard, and are considering a tree, look into the Ginkgo biloba. The ginkgo has existed on this planet for over 150 million years. The leaf of the ginkgo tree has been found in diggings where dinosaur's remains have been found. The leaf has a very unusual shape, and once seen is not easily forgotten. The ginkgo leaf is in the shape of a fan, 2 to 3 inches long and wide. During the spring to fall seasons, the leaves are bright green in color but when the cold temperatures of fall arrive, they quickly change to bright yellow. When all leaves are a bright yellow color, they will drop to the ground in just a day or two. You will never forget the sight of the leafless tree with a ring of bright yellow leaves around it.

Ginkgo trees are easy to grow and will survive from Maine to Florida, and west to California. They will not tolerate wet soils at all. They grow well as street trees, trees for a park or on your front lawn. They love the sunshine and, when young, tend to grow open and unruly. As the tree ages, it will fill in all the holes and become very dense. The ginkgo has an upright growing habit to a height of 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide. When you purchase this tree make sure it is a male tree! Unlike most trees, that have male and female flowers on the same tree, this tree comes in different sexes. The female tree produces fruit that when ripe will have a very rancid smell. The fruit is edible but you do not want the mess. Your local nursery usually carries the male plant but ask for the male plant to be safe. The male tree has flowers that look like catkin and the female has two ovule-shaped petals on a long stem. The fruit looks like a small plum. Insect and disease problems are minimal. Care for this tree as you would any other tree on your property.

The fruit is eaten in Asia and the seeds are used to treat cancer and promote digestion problems. Oriental medicine uses the leaves to help sluggish circulation and improve memory and concentration. Work on the ginkgo tree for migraines and Alzheimer's is also being done.

This is not a fast growing tree and is some time called the "Grandfather-Grandchild Tree," as it takes up to 3 generations to mature to 75 feet. You grow this tree for its unusual foliage and fall color, as well as its history. The ginkgo was once thought to be extinct, but was found in Eastern China. Seeds were sent to all parts of the Orient by explorers. In the 1700 Century, seeds from the ginkgo were sent from Japan to Europe, were they were grown and treasured for their beauty. Japan has many tree estimated to be over 1000 years old and many were planted near temples, as they were thought to be sacred.

In 1945, the city of Hiroshima in Japan was bombed with the atomic bomb. Every living thing around the epicenter of the blast was destroyed. The exception was 4 remarkable ginkgo trees that survived, and in the following spring flowered, their remaining branches becoming filled with leaves. All 4 trees are still thriving today. Ever since then, the Japanese people regard the ginkgo as the "bearer of hope". When visiting Japan, look for the trees. Plaques on them bear prayers for world peace."

At Skillin's we do not stock high quantities of this tree. Demand is not high because it is quite slow growing as this article indicates. But we do love the many attributes of this tree and we think it is a great choice for many situations in your yard. If you would like to talk about ordering the tree give Tim a call at Skillin's at 781-3860 or 1-800-244-3860.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
January 15, 2010

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