Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Meet This Tree: Ginkgo Biloba

This Gingko biloba tree lives in front of the historic home of Buzz reader Toby Horn, who estimates the tree is over 100 years old. This was photo was taken last November when we were invited to see the fabulous carpet of brilliant yellow leaves.

Editor’s Note: This week Emina Darakjy, a very knowledgeable tree enthusiast we are lucky to call a Buzz contributor, introduces us to another stunning climate appropriate tree. When we started this feature, we had just reported on the latest loss of a mature street tree. We hope these columns will inspire readers to plant new trees. Planting a tree is a simple step we can all take to combat climate change and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Please feel free to email at [email protected] us if you have any tree questions for Emina!  

Ginkgo biloba, also called Maidenhair tree
Family: Ginkgoaceae
Origin: Southeastern China

This is a tall deciduous tree, slow growing, it can reach a height of 50 to 80 feet and a spread from 25 to 40 feet.

When the tree is young the trunk bark is light gray becoming darker with irregular furrows as the tree matures. The leaves are flat and fan shaped, they start bright green in the summer turning to yellow in the fall before dropping like brilliant golden snowflakes carpeting the ground underneath. It is a beautiful sight to see.

 

 

The ginkgo flowers are unnoticeable and fragrant. The female variety produces fruit that looks like small plums that drop when ripe and has a foul smell when crushed by people walking on it. It can also cause a slip hazard. To avoid this nuisance, make sure you plant only male grafted cultivars. The fruit is however considered a delicacy in the Orient where the inside seed is roasted before it is consumed.

The Ginkgo adapts to any soil conditions, withstands air pollution, is drought tolerant, grows in partial shade but does better in full sun and is not recommended underneath power lines.

The Ginkgo can be found as a street tree, in medians and in parks. When given ample room to grow the tree exhibits wide spreading branches. If space is tight, try and plant something called “Fairmont” which grows in a conical form OR the “Princeton Sentry” which has an even narrower column like shape.

The Ginkgo does not require a lot of maintenance, it can benefit from some light spring pruning when young but hardly needs any when mature, does not have any significant known pest problems and is resistant to oak root fungus.

It is worthy to note that the Ginkgo is considered as one of the oldest living trees. Research and fossil records show that the Ginkgo existed during the Jurassic period millions of years ago.

Emina Darakjy is a past president of Pasadena Beautiful and is its present Tree Program Chair. Darakjy says she has always had a passion for trees and that she is involved with several other tree organizations such as California Re-Leaf, the Arbor Day Foundation, and American Forests. She is a past president of Street Tree Seminar Inc. and the present president of the California Urban Forests Council.

 

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