Ginkgo biloba.
Ginkgo biloba.

Ginkgo Biloba

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The Ginkgo biloba also known in English as the maindenhair tree is one of the living fossils that we can encounter almost every day.

A young Ginkgo biloba tree in Toronto.

A young Ginkgo biloba tree in Toronto. Bigger Ginkgo trees look like the this small one they are just a lot bigger.

Ginkgo biloba trees are commonly planted as ornamental trees. People seldom realize that Ginkgo trees are more ancient than one would immediately realize and in fact they represent a much older form of tree than even pines trees. Some form of Ginkgo trees, very much like the Ginkgo biloba tree of today have been around some 270 millions of years — or to put it another way a long time since before the dinosaurs have ever roamed the Earth.

A close up of the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree.

A close up of the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree. Observe the how the veins run in the leaf and how it is unlike any other tree you have seen.

The seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree are only produced by the female tree and they look like fruit with their fleshy outer coating but they are anatomically very different from real fruits. The hard seed which looks like a nut once the soft parts are cleaned off is edible although it does contain Ginkgotoxin and can be dangerous.

Ripe seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree.

Ripe seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree hanging from the female tree even after its leaves have fallen off in the autumn.

The fruity Ginkgo seed have another negative effect when they start falling from ornamental trees planted in urban areas covering the sidewalks with a stinking slippery mess as they slowly rot away. Having to deal with them is by no means pleasant.

Ginkgo biloba seeds.

Ginkgo biloba seeds fallen to the ground. They can accumulate on top of fallen leaves or even on the sidewalk where they tend to rot and create a slippery mess that also stinks to the skies and smells like old socks. One reason why people prefer a male Ginkgo biloba as an ornamental tree.

The leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree also contain some minor amount of Ginkgotoxin but they are unlikely to cause a serious poisoning. Various extracts usually made from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba are used for medicinal purposes to prevent or cure a variety of conditions and claimed to increase blood to the brain although it is not very clear how good the evidence is to prove that. Ginkgo biloba consumption can also have various unwanted side effects — even beyond the possibility of poisoning — so exercise extreme caution if you are considering taking Ginkgo biloba as a dietary supplement.

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Last updated: December 12, 2014

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