Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo, Maidenhair Tree




  • native to Eastern China
  • zone 3

Habit and Form

  • deciduous
  • a large tree
  • 40' to 80' tall by 30' to 40' wide, tree is generally taller the further north it is planted
  • medium texture, rather coarse in winter
  • conical form when young, spreading lateral branches with age

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, simple, 2"-3" long, triangular in shape
  • leaves are on spurs in clusters of 3-5
  • Fan shaped, with parallel leaf margins and notched at apex
  • bright green color

Autumn Foliage

  • excellent yellow color
  • leaves drop quickly, especially following a freeze


  • not considered an ornamental feature
  • dioecious
    • male: 1" long catkin in April
    • female: green, naked ovules
  • trees may not flower until 20 years old


  • naked seed produced on female tree only
  • clusters of 2-6
  • light orange to tan color
  • flesh covering seed has a foul smell, often described as rancid butter


  • grey to brown
  • ridged


  • prefers deep sandy soils and moderate moisture
  • adaptable to pH and almost any other conditions
  • full sun
  • tolerant of pollution, salt air, and heat
  • prune in spring
  • pest free

Landscape Uses

  • specimen
  • good for large open area
  • good shade tree
  • possibly a street tree
  • only male clones should be planted, female is outlawed in some areas of United States


  • no serious insect or pest problems
  • female plants have a foul smelling fruit
  • can be slow to become established following transplanting

ID Features

  • leaves triangular and may be 2 lobed
  • parallel veins
  • spurs with brown imbricate buds
  • fruit


  • by seed, collect in fall (cold stratification is benefical)
  • can also be done by softwood or semihardwood cuttings, collect in early summer
  • cultivars are propagated mainly by grafting


'Autumn Gold' (perhaps Autumn Gold™) - This male (non-fruiting) selection is common in the trade and notable for its symmetrical crown that is broad and rounded. The mature size is 50' tall with a 30' spread and fall color is an excellent deep yellow.

'Jade Butterfly' - An unusual dwarf, slow-growing form, this plant has bright green leaves and a mature height that is less than half that of standard forms. It's an introduction out of New Zealand that is gaining popularity.

'Magyar' - An introduction that is gaining momentum in the trade, this plant is a non-fruiting male with upright, ascending branching to 60' tall and half as wide. It is well-suited to urban planting as a street tree.

'Pendula' (also listed as f. pendula) - Plants listed under this name are quite variable, with few expressing a strong weeping habit. Most bear branches that are horizontal or droop slightly

'PNI 2720' (Princeton Sentry®) - A very popular non-fruiting male form, this form assumes an upright habit that tapers to the point. It reaches 60' tall, but only 25' wide.

'Saratoga' - Commonly offered, this plant has a strong central leader and an upright, narrow habit (40' tall and 30' tall).

'Variegata' - Many different clones are offered under this name, but most feature leaves that are irregularly streaked with yellow.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.