Pros and Cons of Ginkgo Trees

Did you know that the Ginkgo tree species is older than the dinosaurs? The Gingko, otherwise known as the maidenhair tree, belongs to a family of trees that appeared some two-hundred and ninety million years ago. The Gingko is the only one of its kind still with us, and that’s pretty amazing.

The pros of Gingko trees are they are insect and disease-resistant, give magnificent shade when mature, grow readily in a variety of environmental conditions, and are incredibly hardy. The cons are that they grow slowly, the females drop foul fruit that can be messy, and the pits are toxic to pets.

The 9 Pros of Ginkgo Trees

Ginkgo Trees Are Highly Adaptable

Gingko trees are highly adaptable to various environmental conditions and will grow in a range of compacted, alkaline, and acidic soils. They are unique among the tree species we know and love today, and they are a living evolutionary link between the conifers and ferns. The tree has thus been described as a living fossil.

Ginkgos Provide Excellent Shade

They are beautiful trees often planted in city parks, office parks, and gardens because they provide excellent shade. The Gingko can be grown on sidewalks along streets, on rolling lawns, or in gardens. It gives a stunning display of color when its leaves turn bright golden yellow in the fall.

The simple, slightly frilly leaves are highly unusual, fan-shaped, and sometimes bifurcated, growing between five and fifteen centimeters long. The tree’s magnificent cone-shaped crown only comes in when it is much older, as the leaves and branches are sparse when it is young. A ginkgo in the garden will always be a talking point between plant lovers.

Ginkgo Trees Don’t Age Like Other Trees

The Gingko is different because it does not have preprogrammed senescence. This means that it doesn’t decline when it is past its youth. It has a healthy defense system that lasts throughout its life and contributes to its longevity. The oldest known Gingko is three and a half thousand years old.

As they age, they show no signs of weakening and can tolerate stress the same as when they were young. Anecdotes that ginkgoes survived the great fire after the 1923 Tokyo earthquake when other trees burned to the ground, and four of them survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb are testimony to their hardiness.

Ginkgos Can Serve As Living Memorials

If you would like a tree that generations of your descendants can admire and remember you by, the Gingko is the one for you. Scientists have found that the maidenhair tree produces chemicals designed to overcome stress caused by disease and drought, so they are hardy and long-lived. They can grow to be a few thousand years old.

They still need access to a ready supply of light, water, and food but can adapt to deal with physical injury, pests, extreme weather, and diseases.

Ginkgo Trees Are Highly Resistant To Pathogens And Insect Pests

Ginkgoes outlived the dinosaurs for a reason. The tree has been around for hundreds of millions of years because it contains specific acids that kill insect larvae. Insects that have tried to eat the leaves have been found dead on the twigs and branches. Ginkgo trees are thus unusually resistant to insects compared to many other trees.

Significantly, the leaves of the Ginkgo are used in Japan as bookmarks to prevent damage from booklice and silverfish. Ginkgo trees are also highly resistant to pollution as their biochemistry is very different from other trees. Some insects are associated with the tree, but none qualify as pests.

These insects include the Grape Mealybug, Virginian Tiger Moth, Zebra Caterpillar Moth, Fruit-tree Leafroller Moth, and the Japanese beetle. The tree’s defense mechanisms prevent the insects from becoming pests. There is no need for external insecticides or pesticides because the Ginkgo has its own.

Ginkgo Trees Contain A Chemical That Inhibits Fungi

Ginkgo Biloba has its survival mechanisms down to a fine art. The tree contains chemical compounds toxic to fungi. Scientists have conducted several studies that show it is also resistant to bacteria and viruses.

The worst enemy of the wild Gingko tree is humankind. It is seriously threatened in the wild because of deforestation and logging. Unfortunately, it is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, so by planting one, you will be doing your bit to conserve the species.

Gingko Trees Make Unusual Bonsais

Ginkgoes make unusual bonsais, so you don’t have to grow a towering one-hundred-foot tree in your garden to enjoy one. The roots grow deep but are not particularly invasive like those of some other trees that are shallow and closer to the surface.

There Are Several Cultivars To Suit Any Garden

Although there is just one species, there are several different cultivars. The Princeton Sentry variety has a much narrower spread, doesn’t need pruning, and grows to a height of forty feet. The Dwarf Variegated Ginkgo only grows to a height of around seven feet, and its variegated leaves have stunning yellow, green and white striping.

Gingko Trees Have Been Used Medicinally For Centuries

Ginkgo biloba has been used for various ailments in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. You will see many ginkgo products on the shelves of health shops in the western world today. The nuts were used to treat coughs, toothache, diarrhea, and fever, while the leaves were used for respiratory, memory, and circulatory problems.

Research results so far have been mixed, with one study finding that ginkgo extract didn’t prevent or slow memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, in another study, people who took Ginkgo demonstrated fewer signs of dementia than the control group.

There’s also a possibility that Gingko can help with glaucoma and tinnitus, but research into the health benefits of Gingko is still in its early stages. It has been linked to eye and vein health because laboratory studies show that it improves blood circulation. You should always obtain the advice of your doctor before taking any supplement.

The 3 Cons Of Ginkgo Trees

Ginkgo Trees Are Slow Growing

They can grow to a height of one hundred and sixty-five feet or over fifty meters but do so very slowly. Ginkgoes have deep roots and are resistant to damage from snow and wind. They can form arial roots and have long branches but start out slender when young.

Since Ginkgos are slow growers, they may not suit someone wanting a large shade tree in a few short years. They are deciduous, so their leaves drop in the fall, but so do many other trees. If you don’t like raking up fallen leaves, you should look at other tree species.

Female Ginkgos Produce Foul Smelling Fruit.

The female Ginkgo produces berries with a foul, pungent odor that are messy when they fall to the ground, but you can get around this problem by planting a male. The smell has been compared to vomit or dirty socks. However, female trees only start to bear fruit after fifteen to twenty years.

Ginkgo Seeds Are Toxic To Pets

The leaves and branches are not harmful, but the seeds of the fruits dropped by the female tree contain concentrations of a chemical called ginkgotoxin which is bad for pets. The seeds can cause vomiting, irritability, and seizures in our furry friends. This can be avoided by planting a male Gingko.