Plant World

Trees and Shrubs

What is the oldest genus of living trees?

The genus Ginkgo, commonly known as maidenhair trees, comprises the oldest living trees. This genus is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries. It has not been found in the wild and it is likely that it would have become extinct had it not been cultivated. Fossils of 200-million-year-old ginkgoes show that the modern-day ginkgo is nearly identical to its forerunner. As of the early twenty-first century, only one living species of ginkgo remains, Ginkgo biloba. The fleshy coverings of the seeds produced by females of the species G. biloba have a distinctly foul odor. Horticulturists prefer to cultivate the male plant from shoots to avoid the odor and mess created by the female tree.


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