Denver Zoo Map

Ginkgo biloba

GINKGO TREE


Classification

Class: Ginkgoopsida
Order: Ginkgoales
Family: Ginkgoaceae
Genus: Ginkgo
Species: biloba
Common Name: Ginkgo Tree

Exhibits

Fun Facts

  • Considered a living fossil dating back 270 million years
  • The relationship of Ginkgo to other plants remains uncertain
  • The most recent study looking at the benefit of taking Ginkgo supplements concluded that ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function.

GINKGO TREE


Distribution

In Nature: Originally it is believed to have grown throughout the world, and for centuries was regarded as extinct.  Today, it is thought to only occur naturally in China.  However, recent DNA testing of native stands shows a small gene pool. This has led to skepticism of the true native distribution of this plant.

At the Zoo: This tree lives in the Conoco Pavilion area between the Wildlife Theater and the NE corner of elephants.  It was planted here in 1999.  New species are now available and will be utilized in Asian Tropics.

 

Habitat

Occurs infrequently in deciduous forests and valleys on acidic (PH 5-5.5) soil with good drainage. Prefers full sun, frequent watering with good root-zone drainage.

 

Physical Description

  • A large tree at maturity, averaging 60-115’ H
  • Some specimens in China have been measured at 164’ H
  • Leaves produce a pretty yellow fall color before dropping

Lifecycle/Adaptations

This plant is dioecious, having separate male and female plants. This occurs in only ~5% of the worlds plants. It is an adaptation often found on islands and helps insure more genetic diversity through cross pollination. Most plants utilized in cultivation today are male plants because the females produce a messy, foul-smelling fruit.  A combination of pollution tolerance, resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.

 

Conservation connection

Because of advances in plant propagation and distribution this plant is widespread and abundantly available for purchase, opposite its status in nature, where it occurs infrequently.

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