Fruit and Nut
The ginkgo tree, Ginkgo biloba, is the sole member of the ginkgo genus, and the only surviving member of the ancient ginkgoaceae family, whose ancestor’s fossilised remains have been found in many parts of the world (including Europe). The oldest remains date back around 200 million years to the early Jurassic period, at the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Gingko trees flourished during the subsequent Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene periods. Fossil remains indicate that the modern day ginkgo is largely unchanged from its dinosaur-era ancestors.
The tree, which has by far the longest lineage of any contemporary tree, was generally thought to be extinct but in the seventeenth century a large tree was discovered in a botanical garden in Japan. Ginkgo trees were later found growing wild in several localities of the Zhejiang province in eastern China, where the tree had long been cultivated by Buddhist monks.
Botanically, ginkgo trees are often lumped together with conifers, but strictly speaking they are a different branch of gymnosperms (a group of plant that includes conifers, cycads, Ginkgo and a group of tropical shrubs colllectively known as Gnetales. Along with cycads, but unlike any other woody plants, Ginkgo trees do not produce pollen but motile sperm that, once in the right place, swim directly to the egg inside the ovule.
Also unlike conifers, Ginkgo trees do not have needles but fan-shaped leaves similar in appearance to some ferns. The trees can live to a great age, sometimes in excess of 1000 years, and do not begin their reproductive phase for around thirty years. The trees are dioecious, meaning the male and female reproductive parts are on different trees. Male trees are often grown for their ornamental value. The ginkgo nut, which forms on the female trees, is surrounded by a fleshy outer layer (which has been variously described as smelling like rancid butter or decomposing flesh). However, in localities where the ginkgo tree grows, the nut is highly prized.
Ginkgo grows into a big tree, reaching 30 metres or more in its native habitat. It is shade intolerant and requires an open sunny position
Young grafted trees (50-80cm high)
Eastern Star A new cultivar from China, noted for its productivity and ability to begin cropping at a young age
Geisha A recent cultivar from Japan. Produces heavy crops of large, richly-flavoured nuts. Spreading, drooping habit
Long March Upright growing variety recently developed in China. Highly productive with large, tasty nuts.
Saratoga Good pollinator for the female varieties listed above and also valuable makes an attractive ornamental tree. Vivid yellow foliage in the autumn.
Availability: Please enquire
Seed-grown trees, random mix of male and females. Attractive trees. Leaves pale green turning yellow in the autumn.