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Maidenhair Tree

Ginkgo biloba

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Plant Profile

Ginkgoaceae (Ginkgo)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, parks.

Yellow, no petals
Male and female flowers are borne on shoots on different trees. Male catkins are thick and erect. Female catkins have long stalks and appear either singly or in pairs.
Female Ginkgo trees produce fruit that resemble small yellow plums. These fruit are longer than wide and grow up to 2cm across in diameter.
Very unique fan-shaped leaves.
Notorious for its foul-smelling fruit on the female trees. The rotting female fruits smell similar to vomit.
Other Names:
Duck-foot Leaf Tree, Duck's Foot Tree, Fossil Tree, Gingko, Icho, Japanese Silver Apricot, Kew Tree, Maidenhair.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Ginkgo biloba, also known as maidenhair, is a species of tree that is native to China. It is the only living species in the genus Ginkgo, and is considered a living fossil, as it is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants that were widespread around the globe. Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 80 feet tall, with fan-shaped leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The tree is known for its distinctive, foul-smelling fruit, which is not edible to humans.

Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to improve brain function, improve memory and cognitive performance, boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. The tree leaves are the part that are used for medical purpose. The extract is available in different forms such as capsules, tablets, or liquid extract. It is important to note that while Ginkgo biloba is commonly taken as a supplement, its effectiveness and safety have not been fully established by scientific research. It is also important to consult a healthcare professional before taking any supplement.


The Maidenhair Tree, also known as Ginkgo biloba, is a unique and fascinating plant with a rich history dating back millions of years. This tree is one of the oldest living species on earth and is considered a "living fossil" because it has remained virtually unchanged for over 200 million years.

Ginkgo biloba is native to China, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years for its medicinal and culinary properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo leaves are used to improve cognitive function, treat respiratory ailments, and alleviate depression and anxiety.

One of the most striking features of the Maidenhair Tree is its fan-shaped leaves, which turn bright yellow in the fall. Ginkgo trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and have a distinctive branching pattern, with long, slender branches that spread out from the trunk at sharp angles.

Another interesting aspect of the Maidenhair Tree is its reproductive system. Ginkgos are dioecious, meaning that individual trees are either male or female. The male trees produce pollen cones, which release tiny grains of pollen into the air. The female trees produce ovules, which are fertilized by the pollen and develop into small, fleshy fruits that smell like rancid butter when they fall to the ground.

Despite its many positive qualities, the Maidenhair Tree has also been associated with some negative effects. Ginkgo leaves contain a compound called ginkgolic acid, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, ginkgo seeds are toxic and should not be consumed.

In recent years, the Maidenhair Tree has gained popularity as a supplement for improving memory and cognitive function. While there is some evidence to suggest that ginkgo may be beneficial for these purposes, more research is needed to fully understand its effects.

The Maidenhair Tree is a fascinating and ancient plant with a rich cultural and medicinal history. Whether you're admiring its beautiful foliage or enjoying its potential health benefits, there's no denying the unique and enduring appeal of Ginkgo biloba.

The Maidenhair Tree has also been associated with several cultural and historical references. In Japan, Ginkgo biloba trees are considered sacred and are often found in temple gardens. They are also used as a symbol of longevity, resilience, and hope. The trees were among the few plants to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 and have since become a symbol of survival and peace.

In Europe, the Maidenhair Tree was first introduced in the 1700s and quickly gained popularity as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It was also used as a medicine to treat respiratory problems and circulatory disorders. In the 20th century, Ginkgo biloba became known for its potential cognitive benefits and started to gain popularity as a supplement.

In addition to its potential health benefits, the Maidenhair Tree has also been recognized for its environmental value. Ginkgos are highly resistant to pests and pollution and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. They are often planted in urban areas as a way to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution.

Interestingly, the Maidenhair Tree has also played a role in science and technology. In the 1940s, researchers discovered that ginkgo leaves contain compounds that inhibit blood clotting, which led to the development of a drug called Gingko extract. This drug is still used today to treat certain circulatory disorders.

The Maidenhair Tree has also been the subject of several scientific studies. Researchers have been investigating the potential benefits of ginkgo leaves for a variety of health conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and cognitive decline. Some studies have suggested that ginkgo may help improve memory, concentration, and overall cognitive function, but the evidence is still limited and more research is needed.

Ginkgo biloba has also been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These properties may help protect against damage caused by free radicals and inflammation, which are linked to a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Additionally, the Maidenhair Tree has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma and other respiratory ailments. Some studies have suggested that ginkgo may help improve lung function and reduce symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Despite its potential benefits, it's important to note that the Maidenhair Tree may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and antidepressants. It's also possible to experience side effects such as headache, nausea, and digestive upset when taking ginkgo supplements.

Another interesting aspect of the Maidenhair Tree is its use in art and design. The unique shape and pattern of the ginkgo leaves have inspired artists and designers for centuries. The ginkgo motif can be found in many forms of art, including ceramics, textiles, and even architecture.

In Japan, the ginkgo leaf motif is particularly popular and has been used in traditional arts such as woodblock prints and kimono fabrics. The pattern is also commonly used in contemporary fashion and design, appearing on clothing, home decor, and accessories.

In addition to its cultural and artistic significance, the Maidenhair Tree has also been used in landscaping and urban planning. The trees are known for their hardiness and can survive in a wide range of environments, including urban areas with high levels of pollution and other environmental stressors. As such, ginkgo trees are often planted in parks, gardens, and along city streets as a way to improve air quality and provide shade.

Overall, the Maidenhair Tree is a remarkable plant with a long and fascinating history. From its cultural significance and medicinal properties to its artistic inspiration and environmental value, there's no denying the enduring appeal of Ginkgo biloba. Whether you're admiring its beautiful leaves or taking a supplement to potentially improve your cognitive function, the Maidenhair Tree is a plant that continues to capture our imagination and curiosity.