The (Gingko biloba) is a lovely and hardy deciduous,ornamental shade tree which is well-suited to the Tyler area. It is a straight tree with fan-shaped, leathery, light green leaves which resemble maidenhair fern and turn yellow-gold in the fall. Although the tree can reach a height of 70 to 80 feet, it is slow growing which makes it well suited to garden areas.

This ancient tree represents a primitive family of trees common 160 million years ago in China. Ginkgo is regarded as sacred in Japan and was planted in the vicinity of ancient temples. It thrives in well-drained, loamy soil and is particularly resistant to modern pollutants, wind, pests and disease. The non-fruiting male trees do not have the messy and ill-smelling fruit of the female trees.

Fine examples of Ginkgos can be seen on the Tyler City Hall lawn. One of the trees on the southeast lawn was planted in 1889. The tree was brought from Japan as a gift from Ambassador Richard Hubbard to Col. John Brown of Tyler.

The tree is truly a living fossil.

Bill Kelldorf, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


The medicinal extract of the Ginkgo biloba tree, a graceful native of China, is one of the world’s most popular herbal products. Ginkgo’s existence dates back to the Mesozoic era, 200 million years ago. As the world’s oldest living species of tree, Ginkgo was featured in the movie Jurassic Park.

Commonly called the Maidenhair tree, Ginkgo has become one of the most widely planted trees in the United States. Attractive in all seasons, this deciduous tree with leathery, fan-shaped leaves has a consistent symmetrical form and outstanding fall color. It is long-lived, drought resistant, tolerates pollution, and is very strong. In fact, Ginkgo was the only tree to survive the atomic attack on Hiroshima, where it is now part of a shrine commemorating the disaster.

Ginkgo is a slow grower but transplants well in large sizes. Feed it heavily with a balanced fertilizer and water it regularly to help accelerate growth. Although it can reach 100 feet tall, most ginkgoes mature in the 35 to 50 foot range. The fruit of the female has a foul smell. Since the female may take as long as 15 years to flower, it is recommended that you plant only grafted male trees to avoid a problem years down the road.

Ginkgoes should be planted in deep, loose, well-drained soil in full sun. They are not particular about soil pH. Young trees can be brittle so they should be staked, but they will become quite strong as they age.

Jackie Hope, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Trees