Our Ginkgo Trees
Our Ginkgo Trees
Every Wednesday through the gardening season we have lunch with our volunteers near the first tree we planted at Keppel Croft. In 1977 we planted our first Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo trees are long lived, disease resistant and so beautiful, especially in autumn with their golden foliage.
We knew very little about Ginkgo trees and planted our tree too close to the house. We knew that the seeds produced by the female trees are a bit of a challenge because of their smell. No problem! We planted a male gingko tree.
The leaves turn golden yellow each autumn. Suddenly nearly all the leaves fall from our ginkgo trees to carpet the ground. One perfectly still, late autumn afternoon we had the extraordinary experience of hearing and seeing all the leaves fall off the patio tree. There was a sound like a sigh and the leaves fluttered down.
It was magical!
Inside this hard white seed coat there is a delicious snack, very popular in Japan.
Bill planted some of the seeds and we have a number of tiny ginkgo seedlings now. The seeds have to stratified so each late winter on the bottom shelf of our refrigerator we have containers of ginkgo seeds having a six week rest in the cold. They will be planted into pots in the early spring and kept indoors until it warms up.
And now we have a fall of the beautiful fruit to enjoy as well. The plum-like fruit are sometimes called silver apricots. Most of the fruit falls after the leaves have covered the ground. They are quite hard to spot in the leaf mulch at first but soon the smell of the outer layer helps us locate them with no difficulty at all!
Now, over 40 years later, we have discovered we planted a very productive female tree! In the late fall of 2015 we were astonished to find three seeds on the patio. The next year we found ten and last autumn we stopped counting.
Ginkgo trees have distinctive fan-shaped leaves which have two lobes, hence their name Ginkgo biloba (two lobes). Their unique veins begin at the base of the leaf and run out to the edge of the leaf. Each vein splits into two new veins multiple times along the length of the leaf. This vein pattern is unique to ginkgo trees. Take a close look at the leaves on the ginkgo tree on our patio and you will notice these features.
To get to the seed inside, the soft and smelly outer layer has to be removed from the fruit. Bill does this with an old dish brush and lots of water in a bucket. The soft outer coating causes an allergic reaction for some people so he wears heavy plastic kitchen gloves. It’s curious that the stem comes out of the fruit at an angle.
You will find everything you ever wanted to know about Ginkgo biloba on a wonderful, award winning website, The Ginkgo Pages, created by Cor Kwant, a high school teacher in the Netherlands. You’ll be fascinated by the information she offers
Branches and leaves of the ginkgo are so interesting! The leaves grow in an alternate pattern on the long lateral branches. On the ends of short lateral shoots they grow very slowly in clusters and produce a long shoot with scattered leaves after a number of years. The short shoots also produce the seeds (on female trees) and pollen (on male trees).
Here’s what is inside the white hard seed coat, the ginkgo seed. The mandarin is there to give you an idea of size.
979 Lakeshore Road,
Buying a grafted trees ensures you will get a male tree. Seedlings come with a warning: We cannot tell if a seedling is male or female until it matures. By planting several, chances of getting both sexes are more likely.