Japanese Garden Plants
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|Japanese Name:||icho; ichô |
|English Name:||Ginkgo/Maidenhair Tree |
|Latin Name:||Ginkgo biloba |
|Sub Type:||DECIDUOUS |
|Native Habitat:|| |
|Flower Color:|| |
|Bloom Time:|| |
|Last Updated:||8/18/2003 |
These are simply some of the finest trees available. They tolerate the pollution and abuse visited upon urban street trees, produce edible fruits and usually have brilliant yellow fall color. One of the finest I've ever seen is at the Cloisters in upper Manhattan. Being gymnosperms (they are closer to conifers than to most decidous trees), they are some of the oldest trees on the planet with a reproductive cycle that is, for the most part, invisible. It was only unraveled in 1896 by a scientist at Tokyo University. The female specimens of this dioecious tree can be a nuisance in some cases as the fleshy part of the fruit they produce is extremely smelly. In most urban areas, only the males are planted (they do not produce the fruit). In New York and San Francisco (and, of course, in China) the female trees are purposefully planted as the Chinese community harvests the fruit. The flesh is removed by soaking the fruit in water, leaving a white shell. Once cracked open, the edible green nut inside can by roasted and eaten plain or used in recipes.|
The trees can reach 30m in height, but can also be turned into bonsai. Their distinctive, fan-shaped leaves are similar to that of maidenhair fern, giving us the alternative English common name. In addition to being terrific urban street trees (they grow well in compacted, oxygen-deficient soil and respond well to pruning and damage) they often appear in large gardens, parks and the grounds of Shinto shrines in Japan, both singly and in groups. Richards and Kaneko in their book that one venerable resident of the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura hid the assassin of shôgun Sanetomo's in 1219.
var. epiphyllum (ohatsuki-ichô)
var. pendula (shidare-ichô)
var. variegata (fuiri-ichô)
For further reference:
Japanese Garden Society of Oregon. Oriental Gardening. New York: Pantheon Books, 1996, p. 97.
Kitamura, Fumio and Ishizu Yurio. Garden Plants in Japan. Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1963, p. 20-21.
Betty Richards and Anne Kaneko, Japanese Plants,
Tokyo: Shufunotomo, 1988, p. 92-93.
Gingko as Aphrodisiac