Ah, the ginkgo’s gold returns. In their honor, I’m reposting this from a few years’ back. Long may the ginkgo continue to confound our naso-horticultural aesthetics.
The golden leaves of Ginkgo trees are just spectacular this week.
I have a special fondness for this species: its kin date back to the Permian (>250 million years ago), so the Paleozoic lives on right here on our campus lawns. The Ginkgo is also remarkably robust and is able to live in even the most polluted cities. Ginkgo trees were among the few living creatures to survive the horrors of the atomic bombs that were dropped onto Japan. Survivors, indeed.
In addition, the species refuses to conform to our narrow notions of botanical beauty. It is dioecious (female and males are separate individuals) and female trees are currently scattering their extremely pungent seeds all over tidy lawns (the smell is butyric acid — rancid butter). The philosophical underpinning of a lawn denies the realities of biology: death and sex are nowhere in evidence on a “nice” lawn. The Ginkgo violates these…
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