November 12, 2007

My Gingko Tree

When I was in Kyoto, I stopped to admire these vibrant gingko leaves.


Seeing them made me think of the gingko tree that has been growing at my farm in Bedford, probably for the last 250 years.  Although not as sizable as some of the ancient gingkos I saw on my trip, my tree is quite massive, measuring 13-feet 7-inches around its trunk.

When I left for Japan, its leaves were intact.  However, the night I returned, it got so cold that the next morning, the leaves of my gingko all seemed to drop at once.  Look at this soft carpet of leaves.  Isn’t it amazing?



Here’s something you may not know about gingko trees.  When it comes to trees, most fall into one of two main categories – conifer or broad-leaved.  The ginkgo, or ginkgo biloba, however, is unlike any other tree on earth because it belongs to its very own order, of which it’s the only surviving member.  Considered to be a living fossil, many scientists believe that the ginkgo was the very first tree to evolve.  And, while other trees and plants have become modified throughout history, the ginkgo remains virtually the same as it ever was.  The ginkgo is often called the maidenhair tree in the Western world, because its fan-shaped leaves greatly resemble the delicate fronds of the maidenhair fern.

Here is a small young gingko on my property, it's leaves fell the same night as my large one!

Although ginkgos grow the world over, some of the oldest specimens are found in South Korea, Japan, and in China, where there is one that is reported to be more than 3,000 years old.  In ancient China, the ginkgo was known as the ‘duck’s foot tree,’ because the leaves resemble the webbed foot of a duck.  But, today, some Chinese doctors refer to the ginkgo as the ‘memory tree,’ because the leaves contain a compound that is said to enhance brain activity and strengthen memory.  Ginkgo is also believed to improve blood flow, and it’s used in herbal preparations to treat many circulatory problems.

Photo By Eliad Laskin