IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Description

Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, is renowned worldwide for its medicinal properties. This remarkable tree is known as a 'living fossil', as it is the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that date back to beyond the time of the dinosaurs (3). The maidenhair tree remains virtually unchanged today and represents the only living bridge between 'higher' and 'lower' plants (between ferns and conifers) (3). Trees reach up to 40 metres in height and older individuals tend to have a more spreading appearance with irregular branches (3). The deeply fissured, brown bark may appear cork-like in older individuals (3). Male and female trees are separate; male pollen is borne on catkin-like cones amongst the leaves whilst female ovules are more rounded (3). After fertilisation, yellowish seeds develop with a fleshy outer seed coat that resembles a plum in appearance (3). The characteristic greenish-yellow leaves are fan-shaped and composed of two or more distinct lobes; the Latin species name biloba refers to this fact (3). The common name of maidenhair tree pertains to the similarity of the leaves to those of maidenhair ferns (Adiantum spp.) (3). In autumn, the leaves of the Ginkgo tree turn a beautiful golden hue before falling to the ground (3).

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Source: ARKive

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