EPISODE 416 THE GINKGO TREE…LONE SURVIVOR FROM THE CARBONIFEROUS ERA
august 24, 2021
THE ANCIENT GINKGO TREE
We have a Ginkgo tree growing beside our house. So what? So we have a living fossil dating back
deep into the geologic history of our earth. Ginkgo trees seem to have thrived in the Carboniferous era
2999 to 350 million years ago. Those 51 million years were wet and warm most of the time so great
tropical jungles covered the land mass. Huge swamps we’re full of life. And then the world changed
and that life mass became extinct except for the Gingko tree By luck and good care by Chinese Buddhist
monks the Gingko was saved from extinction. The ancient trees of this kind are
Only to be found in the huge layers of coal that
dot the earth today. None survived in the wild. Were it not for the Buddhist monks
none would have survived. A remarkable story.
Today the Ginkgo is the national tree of China. Ginkgo’s are part of most North American cities.
They are tough. They are also very unusual. They reproduce in a manner similar to humans.
Sperm from male Ginkgo tree float on the air .. riding on pollen …in their search for female
Ginkgo trees to fertilize. Sex.
This manner of reproduction is proof of their ancient origin. Ginkgo trees were alive on earth
before the age of flowers. Flowering plants were so successful that they pushed earlier
plant forms towards extinction….except for the Ginkgo.
Our Gingko tree is a male ginkgo. Most of the ginkgo trees found on city streets (like along
Lakeshore Road in Mimico, West Toronto) are male ginkgo trees. Few people want female ginkgo trees
anywhere near their property. Why? Because they stink. I mean really stink. One source
says they over their seeds with a fleshy material that smells like human vomitl Others are
less polite and say the ginkgo berries smell like dog shit. Female trees are kept in special
nuseries as a result. Why so stinky? Another survival skill. Certain creatures life rotten
or rotting food. They set the berries and then excrete the nuts. Spread the Ginkgo trees
Sometimes a male tree will fool everyone and switch to become a female. Or develop
a female branch on the male tree. This is thought to be a survival skill.
If you can stand the smell (vomit or dog shit) and clean the fleshy material off the nut
then Ginkgo berries are edible. Some people, mostly Chinese I think, value the nuts.
Ginkgo trees are valued by medical experts for a variety of ailments.
The trees can live s long time. One Ginkgo in central China is reputed to be 1,000 years old.
Our ginkgo is about 10 years old. It has a long life ahead of it unless it decides to change sex.
These Ginkgo berries smell so bad that they have to be cleaned up as soon as
they fall…smell like vomit or dog dung, take your pick. Why? Smell designed to
attract creatures who find smell attractive. This evolved in time more ancient than
OPEN PIT COAL MINE IN RUSSIA — FINDS FOSSILS OF GINKGO TREE
The fossils… 300 million year old remains of a once tropical jungle were noticed
on the top layer of this open pit coal deposit below.. The last jungle of the Carboniferous Era, at least
that is what the fossils seem to suggest. These discoveries are so recent that they
have not been fully documented.
THE GINKGO WAS THERE AMONG THE GIANT FERNS,
How could slower growing trees like the Ginkgo compete with rapid growing
giant ferns (60 feet high and higher)? Apparently the Ginkgo trees “bolted”
…in other words the trunk grew fast and straight …. no branches until it
got higher than the ferns. Hence the ginkgo trees had their leafy
tops higher than the ferns. Illustrations can be seen in theoretical drawings
of these ancient tropical jungles.
Our gingko tree in the side yard has grown in that manner…i.e. bolted…but
this effect may have been much more recent. Modern ginkgo are less speedy
MEDICINAL VALUE OF THE GINKGO
I leave that for you to research. Lots of info available.
August 24, 2021