Ginkgo biloba is a large, deciduous tree that matures to 100' tall and is considered to be a living fossil. It is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth up to 150 million years ago. It features distinctive two-lobed, somewhat leathery, fan-shaped, rich green leaves with diverging (almost parallel) veins. Leaves turn bright yellow in fall. Ginkgo trees are commonly called maidenhair trees in reference to the resemblance of their fan-shaped leaves to maidenhair fern leaflets (pinnae). Ginkgos are dioecious (separate male and female trees). Nurseries typically sell only male trees because female trees produce seeds encased in a fleshy layer which, at maturity in autumn, are messy and emit a noxious, foul odor upon falling to the ground and splitting open.
Easily grown in average, medium moisture soil in full sun. Prefers moist, sandy, well-drained soils. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, including both alkaline and acidic soils and compacted soils. Also tolerant of saline conditions, air pollution and heat. Adapts well to most urban environments. Garden Uses. Excellent selection for a variety of uses, including lawn tree, street tree or shade tree. Also effective in city parks or near commercial buildings. Zones 3-8.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3 months.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the container and leave it to drain.
- Put the pot in a warm, sunny area.
- Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. The seeds will germinate in six to eight weeks.
- The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.