What Is Ginkgo Biloba?


The ginkgo biloba tree is a very popular tree all across the world. It originates from China and has been prized in the other ancient civilizations for its use as a food source, for timber, for its use as an art form and for medicinal preparations. It is a majestic shade tree that grows slowly and for generations, useful in urban settings for its tolerance of poor conditions as along sidewalks and roadways.


The tree is also known as the maidenhair tree and has been cultivated in China and Japan as a sacred tree, which probably kept it from becoming extinct like similar species. Fossil records of the ginkgos show their history goes back millions of years.


The ginkgo biloba tree grows to be about 80 feet high but it grows slowly for decades. It is easily recognizable in the fall with its striking solid yellow leaves. These leaves are fan-shaped with ridges that catch the wind and makes them flutter. The bark is deeply furrowed and quite handsome once the leaves have fallen.


The ginkgo has been used for centuries as a source of medicinal preparations. Modern scientists are just getting started in their study of this unique plant that offers relief from a variety of ailments and is being studied as a possibility for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The male form of the tree is useful in urban settings as a shade tree since it grows easily with little care. Some cultures use the fruit as a food.

Growth Habits

The ginkgo biloba tree will grow in zones three through eight. It prefers deep sandy soil, but will tolerate just about any situation. It does not need fertilizers and is pest resistant. Trees grown in full sun will thrive although they can put up with a little shade.


The propagation of a ginkgo biloba tree is by seeds. The male tree bears the pollen and the messier female tree will bear the ovule. The tree will not produce any seeds until it is around 20 years old. The seeds are thinly coated, which keeps them from sprouting until the following year. The temperature of the air will dictate how fast the germination process proceeds.

Keywords: Ginkgo Biloba, tree urban, landscaping

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and eHow.com. Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.