Also called maidenhair tree or 銀杏 (ichō or gin kyō, "silver apricot" in 🇯🇵 Japanese).  Pronounced gingko (ɡɪŋkoʊ).  The English spelling "ginkgo" is probably a misspelling of that Japanese "ginkyo".

The only surviving species of its genus, family and order Ginkgoales.

200 million years ago, ginkgoes were native to much of the 🌐︎ world.  Apparently, its sister- and cousin-species that could not fix nitrogen did not survive the K-Pg (dinosaur-killing) event.  And competition with flowering plants further shrank its habitat.  By 2 million years ago, it was native only to 🇨🇳 China, and has now dwindled to a few small areas.  It may soon be extinct in the wild. [1]

✋︎ On the other hand, this tree is 🌐︎ widely planted around the world.   🗺 Map by county (🇺🇸 USA-48) (color key).   Probably due to the tree's resistance to insects and pollution, and ability to grow under concrete and asphalt.   We see ginkgoes planted a lot in parking lots.

Uses by native peoples
(Ethnobotany database)
  "Medicinal Plants And Herbs" article on this plant from Steven Foster.

Ginkgo hosts caterpillars of no species
of butterflies and moths, in some areas.
  Because this tree evolved in ecological isolation, it contributes few ecosystem services.

If you buy this plant at a nursery, it will probably be a male clone, which score very high (7, 9-10, out of 10) on the OPALS™ Ogren Plant Allergy Scale.  Finding female plants for sale is rare, due to their 👃︎ foul-smelling seeds.

Recipe planting info (SW Michigan).  Adobe Acrobat Reader file

Ginkgo  Ginkgo biloba have 'naked' seeds — thus called gymnosperm — by:

  • not enclosing its seeds with any ovary structure, and
  • packaging their seeds in cones (a different type of female repro­ductive structure, apparently).

So do 🌲︎ conifer  order Pinales, cycad  order Cycadales, and a few more.


Unlike most trees today, ginkgoes have been almost unchanged for 200 million years.  Thus fossil ginkgo leaves (through their number of stomata) can tell us a lot about ancient levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

A 4-minute video segment describing this appears from time index 37m00s to 41m00s in PBS program Nova episode "Polar Extremes", above or to left.

For full effect, select the video image's icons  full­screen,  captions=On, scroll to time index 37m00s, and ▶︎ Play for 4 minutes.


Above or to left is video Ginkgo Petrified Forest, by professor Nick Zentner.

For full effect, select the video image, then icons YouTube (if present), ⏯︎ ⊠ Skip Ads (if present),  captions (if you wish),  full­screen, and ▶︎ Play.

References

[1]  "Ginkgo trees nearly went extinct.  Here's how we saved these 'living fossils.'"  National Geographic.  .   Accessed .

Learn more about ginkgo Ginkgo biloba

🔍︎ 🔍︎ images Discover Life Encyclopedia of Life Gymnosperm database (Michigan) MSU Ext Missouri Botanical Garden Flora of North America NRCS PLANTS db Wikipedia