This is what the trees look like, from a seed to a
seedling, to a large tree, to a yellow leaf carpet:
See above for a photo of the ripe seeds on the
How to spot the trees and seeds
The easiest way to spot the trees is to wait until fall
when the leaves turn bright yellow, usually all at the
same time. In winter the branches have little stubs like
pegs, and in the summer the leaves are characteristic
(we actually spotted one on an episode of Sex and the
City, where one of the women was walking down a
small street). Note that most plants are male. I have
never found a female ginkgo. (Correction: I finally
found a female ginkgo tree growing near Wilmington on
08/10/03. It has seeds on it, and there other trees
nearby, so maybe it will be fertilized. ) (Note from
10/27/03: I have recently found a female growing in a
backyard next to an alley in New Castle, near the
waterfront park, and also a whole row of mixed female
and male trees just north of Wilmington. I will be
collecting seeds from this street this year) It is
said that the seed pods smell extremely bad when they
fall and begin to ripen, and for this reason most trees
are grown by cuttings taken from male plants. I had to
order these seeds from a source I found on the internet.
The gamble is that you will not know the gender of the
tree for about 20 years, so if you are planning ahead
and don't want females, stick to store-bought trees.
Where to find them in Wilmington
I have left these descriptions vague so you will have
the fun of finding the trees for yourself.
In Wilmington there are lots of trees. There is a huge
one at Wilcastle Center, north of town off of
Pennsylvania Avenue. There are several large ones when
you go into Rockford Park on Lovering, and there is a
entire block on 19th St. near Bancroft
Parkway. There are several trees on the East Side
of Wilmington, where I bike to work, in front of
Bancroft school on Lombard street.
How to grow the seeds:
My first try at growing these seeds was not very
successful. Out of 60 seeds planted, only 10 or so
germinated. Some are continuing to germinate in early
August, so the final count might go up. I planted 30
seeds after removing them from the pods and cleaning off
any remaining flesh. I planted another 30 after
cleaning, and then scarifying the seed with a hacksaw.
Neither method was very effective. Some of the seeds
just rotted away, while others cracked open and the
seeds rotted from the inside. I hadn't yet
found a female tree near me, so I bought these seeds
over the Internet. I held them, in the fruit, over the
winter in a plastic bag, and cleaned them just before
planting in the spring.
sells ginkgo seeds online.
contain a lot of information about the plant,
seeds, and usage.
Not related to trees, a recent article
in Scientific American
reviews some of the purported health benefits of the
herb ginkgo biloba, and has a very nice illustration.