Commonly known as ginkgo or gingko also known as the maidenhair tree, is a species of tree native to China. It is the last living species in the order Ginkgoales, which first appeared over 290 million years ago. Fossils very similar to the living species, belonging to the genus Ginkgo, extend back to the Middle Jurassic approximately 170 million years ago. The tree was cultivated early in human history and remains commonly planted.
Ginkgo leaf extract is commonly used as a dietary supplement, but there is no scientific evidence that it supports human health or is effective against any disease.
Ginkgos are large trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m, with some specimens in China being over 50 m. The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches, and is usually deep rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage. Young trees are often tall and slender, and sparsely branched; the crown becomes broader as the tree ages. A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood, and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos durable, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.
Ginkgoes are also attractive in autumn because of the bright yellow autumn color of their leaves (Photo: G. Aas)
Ginkgo seeds have a fleshy shell, their core is edible (Photo: G. Aas)