Thursday, November 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Dilemma of the Ginkgo

This post has become somewhat of a yearly fall tradition on my blog.  This was first published on November 23, 2013.
Ginkgo Fruit and leaf, West Side of Binghamton, October 2016

The Ginkgo is a survivor. It has beautiful fan-shaped leaves.  In the fall, they turn a beautiful yellow. But, quite frankly, it can be a bit of a stinker.
Binghamton, New York, October 2015
Some cities that have planted them have learned to regret it.  Hence, from November of 2013:

The Dilemma of the Ginkgo

Last year, some streets in downtown Binghamton, New York were rebuilt and re landscaped. This spring, I noticed that some of the young trees planted were ginkgos.

Ginkgoes are not extremely popular here in Binghamton.  I see more of the trees up in Ithaca, and I saw a good number in Iowa City when I used to visit my late aunt.  This was back in the 1980's and 1990's and I can remember them on the University of Iowa campus.  I've also seen them in New York City.

The ginkgo tree is also called the Maidenhair tree.  It is an almost indestructible tree.  In Japan they are known as the "bearer of hope" as a number of them survived the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. One of the surviving trees is some 200 years old.
The leaves turn a lovely yellow in the fall, too.  But before you rush out to buy this wonderful tree, there is something you should know.

The females produce a seed, surrounded by a pulp.  Fortunately, there is no such thing as "smell o blog" because you would be gagging just about now.  Some people say the smell resembles the smell of vomit.  Others say dog poo.  I tend towards the dog poo camp.

That patch of fallen leaves on the West Side of Binghamton, to be accurate, reeks.

This is what the offending (bare) tree looked like in early November, the offending fruits barely visible.

Yes, dear readers, this is the same Ginkgo Biloba that some claim enhances your memory, and may have other medicinal qualities.

Many cities were playing it safe by permitting only male trees.  But nature has a way, folks (as anyone who has seen the movie Jurassic Park knows), and it would seem that some of those male trees are now - well, they aren't males any more.

And these cities who planted these wonder trees now wonder what to do.

I wonder if the tree I photographed on the West Side of Binghamton started its life as a male.

Will the City of Binghamton have to face that dilemma in a few year when those small downtown trees mature and perhaps....well, stink?

Have you had this problem where you live?

Day 17 of NaBloPoMo.


  1. Apparently the 'stink-o-meter' is also high on mature Bradford pears which are no longer recommended for planting around here. Still, the smell might be slightly better than all that cottonweed 'fluff' that clogs up air conditioners and roof vents.

  2. My friend lives in Buffalo on a lovely tree-lined street. In the spring, the trees bear beautiful flowers that no one loves because they smell like... Dirty diapers! Sometimes, nature isn't very aromatic. Clothespin, anyone?

  3. Goes to prove that Joyce Kilmer might have missed a trick? (Let us not forget he is from New Jersey, either...)

  4. so interesting. i had no idea. but a stinky downtown would be horrible. something to smell...i mean ponder :)

  5. There is some plant or other that smells like marijuana when it's pruned. And it was outside one of the schools where certain students like to indulge. That was an interesting morning...

  6. My dad has one of those trees in his yard and I love the yellow leaves in the fall. He must have a male because I haven't seen fruit nor smelled the smell. Plus, if it did produce smelly fruit, Dad would have rid his yard of that particular tree. LOL

  7. No, we have a gingko grove in a local arboretum and it is delightful. Perhaps they only have the males.


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