Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Beautiful `Living Fossil'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Beautiful `Living Fossil'

Article excerpt

Plant a ginkgo tree in spring, and you're guaranteed a breathtaking display of golden leaves in the fall.

Plus, if you plant a ginkgo tree these days, you're guaranteed to get a male that won't drop fruit all over your yard. Growers now clone only male trees, as that's what most people want.

"If you have the choice of not doing any work or of doing work, and you get the same result - a lovely tree - it's easy to see why people would choose to have the male trees," said Mark Yarnell, general manager of Timber Creek Nursery in west St. Louis County. Ginkgo trees will grow under almost any conditions - sun, shade, heat, cold, smog, pollution, wind and humidity - and they resist insects and fungi. The trees grow as tall as 75 to 100 feet, with a trunk up to 8 feet in diameter. Their distinctive, fan-shaped leaves have no central rib. Numerous parallel veins branch across the surface of each leaf. In spring, the young leaves are bright green. They turn a deeper, dull green in summer and become a gorgeous, translucent gold in fall. Yarnell said he gets a lot of requests for the trees, especially since he planted two at the nursery for customers to admire. One drawback, he said, is that ginkgos grow slowly. "In our impatient society, we want everything to happen quickly," he said. "Still, the ginkgo is a beautiful tree." Rich Kelly, at Rolling Ridge Nursery in Webster Groves, said one variety of ginkgo, called "Autumn Gold," is said to grow up to 4 1/2 inches a year, which should please the impatient. "These days, they are breeding all sorts of ginkgos. There are at least 18 varieties," said Kelly, vice president of nursery operations. Trees from six to 10 feet tall range in price from $65 to more than $100, depending on size. Check with your local nursery. Ginkgos are easy to plant. They will put up with full sun, even in our hot summers, though they do need well-drained soil and plenty of space. Leave just a bit of the root ball showing, and if the tree is particularly skinny, you might want to stake it for the first year. Aficionados know that 150 million years ago, ginkgo leaves served as lunch for brontosauruses. One of the planet's two oldest trees (the other is the bristlecone pine), the ginkgo has been called the epitome of Charle s Darwin's notion of a "living fossil." During the Mesozoic Era, members of the Ginkgoaceae family grew in parts of what are now Australia, the British Isles, northern Europe, Greenland, Russia, China, Japan, South America, Africa and in the United States, especially along the northern Pacific Coast. With changes in world climate, the ginkgo retreated to a small area in eastern China, which served as its last stronghold. Today, ginkgo trees have taken over the world again. Locally, they can be seen standing proud on Taylor Avenue south of Lindell Boulevard and on Sixth Street north of Cole Street. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.