Plant of the Month October 2017

Ginkgo for web

Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’

In the bed immediately to the east of the rhododendron ' dell' there is a small tree, a Ginko biloba. The bed itself is earmarked for replanting, but this specimen tree will remain.

The genus Ginkoales first appeared some 270 million years ago and has completely died out except for this single remaining species, hence its reputation as a 'living fossil'.  A few stands of the tree remain in remote parts of China, but most specimens now seen have been been produced from seed or vegetative reproduction. It's common name of 'Maidenhair tree’ refers to the similarity the leaves of a maidenhair fern, which also have a two lobed or ' bilobed' profile.

Two larger adult trees stand immediately outside Stanmore underground station entrance.

It is remarkably resistant to pollution and other assaults and is a successful urban tree. In Japan considerable attention is given to six specimens which survived the Hiroshima bomb, and are still flourishing. Recently it has been found that all Ginkos have an extraordinarily large DNA genome of 10.6 billion nucleobase letters which may account for it's defence capabilities.

Ginkgos are either male or female like hollies and this is called dioecious. Our tree is a male variety called Autumn Gold - a good choice because the berries on female trees are renowned for a revolting faecal smell!

Unfortunately, the claims made for a multiplicity of health remedies from this tree are not well substantiated by carefully controlled clinical trials. In particular, there has been only limited fully validated success for dementia treatment.

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© Bushey Museum Property Trust 2017