photo credit: olga drach on unsplash
Quick: What ancient Chinese tree is known for its reputation as a memory-enhancing supplement?
If you guessed “GINKO,” you’d be just partially right, because you misspelled it. The word is “GINKGO,” but I’ll forgive you for using only five letters, because you’ve probably been playing too much Wordle.
I’m writing about the ginkgo tree today for three reasons:
- Their leaves are gorgeous.
- They’ve managed to survive for thousands of years.
- I have some photos of ginkgo trees to share with you.
But on a deeper level, my reasons are more complicated. As you may remember if you’ve been taking your ginkgo supplements (just kidding!), my dog Maya and I packed up and moved cross-country last year. You can read about our journey in my previous blog series, “New Latitude.” I stopped blogging temporarily, but now that I’m all settled in, I want to get back to my mission: writing stories inspired by my camera.
Yesterday, I uploaded 24 new photos, and I’ll be writing about each one, starting with GINKGO LEAVES:
And now for some Fascinating Facts about the Ginkgo tree:
- Its scientific name is Ginkgo biloba.
- It’s native to China.
- Although its natural range is a small area of China, it has been cultivated in other parts of the world. (My photos were taken at Highland Park in Rochester, New York.)
- Fossils in the Ginkgo genus date back to the Middle Jurassic period (about 170 million years ago). It was cultivated early in human history.
- Its DNA genome is about three times as large as our human genome, which is thought to be why the ginkgo tree has many natural defenses against bacteria and chemicals. In fact, it’s so resistant to environmental assaults that six specimens growing in close proximity to the 1945 atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan survived and continued to grow as healthy plants. They are still alive today.
- According to an article by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, its use as a dietary supplement for the treatment of various diseases is mixed, and more study is needed.
- It originally was two separate Japanese words pronounced “gin kyo.” Its current spelling dates back to a probable spelling error by a German, Engelbert Kaempfer.
- It can grow to over 100 feet tall.
- It’s considered a “living fossil.” Some living specimens are reported to be over 2,500 years old.
- The ginkgo leaf is the symbol of Tokyo.
I’m glad I thought to take pictures of those pretty ginkgo leaves in Highland Park last summer. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been so inspired to learn more about this admirable tree. I’d love to read about what inspires you. Please leave a note in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.
Before I go, I just want to say it’s (gink)GOOD to be back!
If you haven’t already done so, please check out my brand new book, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” on Amazon. It contains 30 original poems inspired by the daily act of Wordling. No spoilers! Reviews are greatly appreciated!
For more of my writing, visit my author page over at Bardsy, as well as my book, “Standing in the Surf,” on Amazon. It’s a photo journal about the Pacific Northwest area known as the Salish Sea, which includes Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens, and more.