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Great Ginkgo

Great Ginkgo - photo by Janet Pullen, project volunteerThis exotic tree species is known as a living fossil as it existed 270 million years ago. Now, the Ginkgo biloba is very much an endangered species, as there are thought to be none growing in the wild.

These trees are diocieous, with different trees having male or female flowers. This specimen is a very good size, being 12m high with a girth of 2.23m and it is female which is rarer than the male.

Males are deliberately selected to eliminate the problems associated with Ginkgo fruit - they are extremely smelly and have been likened to "a sewage works on a hot day"! Fruit production varies from year to year and in September 2007 special trees volunteer, Janet, could find only one, small marble-sized fruit to confirm the sex. As well as its 'fragrant' fruit, the ginko also produces glorious yellow leaves in the autumn.

Female trees can fruit within 50 years but males do not produce flowers for 150 years, so the chances of the fruit on this tree being fertile is very low indeed (unless you know of a male Ginkgo nearby, more than 150 years old).

There are many medicinal uses of this tree. The ginkgo is not mentioned in the Bible so doesn't fit as part of the biblical planting supposedly done in the area - though some say it might actually be the "Tree of Life", it certainly has wicked fruit!

Ginkgos are regarded in Japan as 'the bearers of hope' because four of them, growing within 2km of Hiroshima, not only survived the 1945 atomic bomb but live on. Later re-building has been moulded around them.

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