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Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Ginkgo History

Photo of ginkgo leaves from wikipedia

My love of the ginkgo leaf comes from my long history with Winona Lake IN.  But the tree itself has a much looonger history.  The tree has been in existence since the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, or 270 million years.  They have lived to see the dinosaurs live and die, and watched the evolution of plant and animal life up to the present day. There is no other plant like the ginkgo in existence today

It is the only tree that gets its water and sends it through one waterway up the trunk, instead of many small xylem and phloem inside the bark that modern trees use to deliver water and nutrients.  This is one reason why the leaf has such an interesting shape, different than all the others.

It is admired for its beauty, perhaps beginning in ancient China; used for medicinal purposes and as a food source. For a plant that is so old it has characteristics that have repopularized it today. It can be found in many urban settings, not just pampered gardens.  It can be very adaptive and disease resistant, which makes it perfect for roadside planting.
Everything is a little different with the ginkgo tree, even the way the leaves are attached to the limbs.

Here is an actual photo of one of my special trees.
These trees are very slow growers. I can only imagine the joy that people must feel if they have one growing near them.  The 2 ginkgoes at the swan pond were most likely planted about 1890, which would make them about 120 years old. This is the only photo I have of them.   

Another interesting fact is that in the fall, the leaves turn bright yellow, and most of them drop off the tree within 24 hours. So provide yourself with a lifetime of joy and plant a ginkgo tree.  Make sure you get a male variety because the females produce a very stinky fruit about the size of a cherry!

Or better yet, find a leaf and put it in one of your quilts!

Ginkgoes Galore, a quilt by Ann Fahl
 Ann Fahl

1 comment:

Barb H said...

Thanks for the info on the ginkgo. I love the shape of the leaves and especially the way you used them in your quilt.