Ginkgo biloba
Common name: 
Maidenhair Tree
GINK-go bi-LO-ba
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf deciduous tree, a gymnosperm, reaches 50+ ft (15+ m) tall, usually pyramidal, excurrent (dominant main leader), but variable.  Leaves alternate, simple, fan-shaped, 3-7.5 cm long and wide, in clusters of 3-5 per spur or alternate on long shoots.   Dioecious - male and female trees; male flowers (sometimes called pollen cones) are 2.5 cm long, catkin-like, with numerous stamens loosely arranged; female flowers are long stalked, 4-5 cm, solitary, with two opposing ovules at the end of the stalk.  "Fruit" on female plants is actually not a true fruit but a naked seed (Ginkgo is a gymnosperm = gymno, naked, and sperm, seed) with a fleshy covering (the sarcotesta), it is plum-shaped (ca. 2.5 cm diam.), green then tan or orange, extremely messy and malodorous when ripe.  (In their 1954 botany text, Fuller & Tippo indicate that one botanist described the fruit smell in more vernacular terms, i.e., like "raw dog vomit".)   Sometimes fruit is set without pollination.  It may be twenty or more years before a seedling flowers and sets fruit.  Seedless (male) cultivars are commercially available, see below.
  • Sun.  Transplants easily.  Prefers sandy, deep, moderately moist soil but grows in almost any situation.  A durable tree for difficult landscape situations, in addition some cultivars can be espaliered or used in bonsai.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3     Native to eastern China, long cultivated.
  • Available male selections include:
    • Autumn Gold™  -  broad conical habit, 40 × 30 ft (12 × 9 m), golden-yellow fall color.
    • ‘Lakeview’  -  compact conical form , deep gold fall color.
    • ‘Magyar’  -  upright braching habit, 50 × 30 ft (15 × 9 m)
    • ‘Mariken’  -  dwarf, some what weeping, slow growing, only 2 ft × 2 ft (0.6 m × 0.6 m) in 10 years.
    • Princeton Sentry®  -  upright, somewhat columnar, slightly tapered from base to apex, 60 × 20 ft (18 × 6 m), yellow fall color
    • Shangri-la®  -  uniform compact crown, dense branching, 45 × 25 ft (14 × 7.5 m), bright yellow fall color.
  • Fall color is often bright yellow to gold.  Trees often drop a major proportion of their fall foliage over a short period of time, sometimes during a single night.  If there is little or no wind, this may result in a carpet of yellow leaves under trees.
  • Ginkgo: from the Chinese yin-kuo, silver apricot.   biloba: two lobed, leaves sometimes incised or divided.
  • Corvallis: northwest area of Central Park.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: east and south of Wiegand and west of Withycombe.


Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, row of trees

    plant habit, row of trees

  • plant habit, more open

    plant habit, more open

  • emerging leaves

    emerging leaves

  • leafy shoot

    leafy shoot

  • leaf


  • leaves and female flower

    leaves and female flower

  • female flower cluster

    female flower cluster

  • female flowers

    female flowers

  • male flower clusters

    male flower clusters

  • fruit development

    fruit development

  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit

  • ripening fruit

    ripening fruit

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • leaves and fruit, fall

    leaves and fruit, fall

  • ripe fruit

    ripe fruit

  • ripe fruit and seed

    ripe fruit and seed

  • plant habit, winter

    plant habit, winter

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter twigs, buds

    winter twigs, buds