Ginkgo biloba: Maidenhair Tree Plant Profile

Discover the ancient and fascinating Maidenhair Tree, or Ginkgo biloba. Learn why it might be a good fit for your garden.

The Maidenhair Tree, scientifically known as Ginkgo biloba, belongs to the Ginkgoaceae family. This tree is known for its fan-shaped leaves and its status as a living fossil.

If you’re looking for a tree that’s both unique and hardy, the Maidenhair Tree might be a great addition to your garden.

Family: Ginkgoaceae

The Ginkgoaceae family belongs to gymnosperms, a category of plants that carry seeds without flowering. The Maidenhair Tree, or Ginkgo biloba, stands alone as the last representative of this ancient family.

Distinctive fan-shaped leaves are its hallmark, along with the presence of individual trees with either male or female flowers, termed dioecious.

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Ginkgo biloba: Basic Information

  • Common Name: Maidenhair Tree
  • Scientific Name: Ginkgo biloba
  • Origin: China
  • Family: Ginkgoaceae
  • Type: Deciduous tree
  • Size: 20-35m height, 5-8m width
  • Leaf Type: Fan-shaped
  • Flower Colour: Inconspicuous

Appearance and Features

The Maidenhair Tree grows tall and narrow, reaching heights between 20 and 35 metres. Its leaves are fan-shaped and turn a golden yellow in autumn.

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While the tree does produce seeds, the outer flesh layer on the seeds from female trees can produce a foul smell when it decays.

Natural Habitat

Originally from China, the Maidenhair Tree has been cultivated worldwide. Because this species isn’t native to Australia, be sure to check whether it’s considered an invasive species in your region.

How to Grow Ginkgo biloba

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People often grow the Maidenhair Tree for its unique appearance and hardiness. However, be aware that the tree can produce foul-smelling fruits.

Growing Conditions

  • Soil: Well-drained, loamy, pH 5.0-6.5
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Climate: Adaptable, frost and drought tolerant

Planting Guide

Plant in spring or autumn. Space the trees 6-8 metres apart for proper growth.

Care and Maintenance

Water moderately and let the soil dry a bit between waterings. Prune in late winter or early spring. Mulch around the base to retain moisture. No special feeding is required.

Ginkgo biloba Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Generally, the Maidenhair Tree is resistant to pests and diseases. If you notice signs of poor health like yellowing leaves, check your watering and soil nutrients.

Special Features

The Maidenhair Tree is one of the oldest living tree species, dating back over 270 million years. Its unique leaves turn a beautiful golden-yellow in autumn. The leaves are also used in traditional medicine.

Uses in the Garden and Beyond

Commonly used as a shade tree, the Maidenhair Tree has also found uses in traditional medicine.

The seeds, when cooked, are considered a delicacy in some cultures. However, be mindful of the outer fleshy layer, which can produce a foul smell when it decays.

Environmental Benefits

Being drought-tolerant, the Maidenhair Tree is suitable for water-saving gardens.

Maidenhair Tree FAQ

Is the Maidenhair Tree native to Australia?

No, it’s native to China but has been cultivated in various parts of Australia.

Does the Maidenhair Tree produce fruit?

The Maidenhair Tree produces seeds with an outer fleshy layer. While often referred to as “fruits,” they are technically seeds. Be cautious as the fleshy layer has a foul smell when decaying, and the seeds inside can be toxic if not prepared correctly.

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Linda Jones

Based in sunny Brisbane, Linda has a keen interest in ornamental plants. She firmly believes that gardens are as much about aesthetics as they are about functionality. Despite being a life-long gardener, she still enjoys learning about new plants and gardening techniques and sharing her discoveries with the Ultimate Backyard community. When she's not immersed in her garden, Linda loves reading and walking.


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