Plant Diversity

Early Plants

How old are ginkgo trees?

The genus Ginkgo, commonly known as maidenhair trees, comprises one of the oldest living trees on Earth. This genus is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries. It has not been found in the wild; it is likely that it would have become extinct if it had not been cultivated. Fossils of 200-million-year-old ginkgoes show that the modern-day ginkgo is nearly identical to its ancestors, but only one living species of ginkgo remains, Ginkgo biloba, with its characteristic, fan-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant yellow and drop all at once in the autumn. The fleshy coverings of the seeds produced by females of the species G. biloba have a distinctly foul odor as they age; the male plants do not have seeds, of course, and thus, many horticulturalists and gardeners tend to cultivate the male trees.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Biology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App