GINKGO – botanische Reise

“Without the color of the ginkgo trees, autumn would not be autumn”

Korean saying

When we talk about ginkgo trees, we often think of this golden color, like gold. The tree with forty crowns, with this magnificent foliage which in a few days can illuminate forests and gardens. We also think of its leaves, often bilobed in the shape of a fan. The German botanist Kaempfer was in Japan in 1690, during a walk in the market, he was intrigued by kinds of apricots and gave it the name “Ginnan” pronounced guinn’an and still used in Japan for its fruit. In 1771 the name of Ginkgo is given by Linnaeus. So we often find under the name: Ginkgo biloba L (L meaning Linnaeus). In France, it is given the name of the tree with forty crowns, because Petigny a botanist in 1780 would have bought in England 5 plants of Ginkgos for 40 ecus. In Germany, there are two names: Ginkgobaum or Mädchenhaarbaum (young girl’s hair). In China the name (Yinxingmu) is given for silver apricot and sometimes duck’s foot (yazô) for its bilobed leaves.

Male or female ?

How to recognize a male or female ginkgo?

The leaves of the female tree grow a little later (sometimes 15 days late). The female tree has fruits, the famous almonds, loved in Asia and sometimes hated by gardeners because of its smell when the fruits fall in the fall and rot. Fruits that Asians relate to apricots, but I would say they look more like mirabelle plums (I almost got it wrong) but then, in their use we throw out the pulp to consume the seeds. It seems that they are credited with an aphrodisiac virtue (in Asia) I have not tested 🙂

Where to find it?

 It is often found in large parks, near temples, and even a male and female tree at the entrance to temples. In memory of Goethe we can find it in Karlsruhe, Weimar (which I will deal with in a future blog), in Paris at the Jardin des Plantes, and may soon be photos of this tree at the Jardin des Plantes which would be a male grafted with a female branch, and of course in Hiroshima and many cities. 514 cities near Paris, in Seine et Marne, chose to plant a ginkgo tree for the memory of the revolution in 1989. It has become a trendy tree.

A treasure hunt

While studying, observing these magnificent trees (which often overlook a large park) it became a real treasure hunt. At the start of the season, ask yourself if it’s a male or a female and go back to confirm. To look for the bilobed leaves, to observe the different shades of green, clear then darker which contrasts with the other nearby trees and the sky. The bilobed leaves which are the last to appear… Beautiful journey among the ginkgo trees and above all do not deprive yourself of the magnificent carpets of golden leaves in Autumn.

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