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TREES & plants

Ginkgo

The ginkgo tree has fan-shaped leaves.

Ginkgo is a very pest-resistant tree. It has interesting, fan-shaped leaves that turn vivid yellow in fall. Only male trees should be purchased as the females produce messy fruit that have a potent odor.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Ginkgo biloba
All Common Names: 
ginkgo, maidenhair tree
Family (English): 
Ginkgo
Family (Botanic): 
Ginkgoaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
50-80 feet
Mature Width: 
variable
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8, 
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color
Season of Interest: 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Broad, 
  • Pyramidal, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Relatively low maintenance.
Prune in spring.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pests.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerates salt, heat, drought, alkaline soil.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China.

Bark color and texture 

The bark is typically light gray, with shallow ridges and furrows.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple,alternate, fan-shaped leaves in clusters of 3 to 5 on spurs or single on long shoots; usually notched at the tip;  2 to 3 inches long.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous, male and female flowers on separate trees (dioecious).

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Not a true fruit, but a seed with a fleshy covering; produced only on female trees; apricot colored with a silvery cast; messy and they produce a strong odor.
Buy male cultivars only.

Cultivars and their differences 

There are numerous cultivars available.  Here are some that are more commonly sold.

Autumn Gold ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’):  non-fruiting male with uniform conical habit becoming broader with age.  Outstanding yellow color in autumn.

Emperor™ ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba Woodstock'): non-fruiting male with upright-oval shape and a strong central leader; 50 feet high and 40 feet wide. This is a Chicagoland Grows™ introduction.

Golden Colonade® ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'JFS-UGA2'):  non-fruiting male with a strong central leader and narrow-oval form; 45 feet high and 25 feet wide.

Jade Butterfly ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Jade Butterfly'):  A dwarf cultivar (12 to 15 feet high) with leaves in dense clusters; non-fruiting male.

Magyar ginkgo  (Ginkgo biloba ‘Magyar’):  narrow, non-fruiting male with upright, ascending branching.

Mariken ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Mariken'): A dwarf cultivar, growing 3 to 4 feet high and wide; non-fruiting male.

Presidential Gold® ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'The President'):  non-fruiting male with a dense upright form and strong central leader; 50 feet high and 40 feet wide.

Princeton Sentry ginkgo  (Ginkgo biloba ‘Princeton Sentry’):   non-fruiting male form; assumes an upright, nearly columnar form that tapers to a point.

Sky Tower ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'JN9'):  A narrow, compact cultivar (15 to 20 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide); non-fruiting male.

Windover Gold ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Windover Gold'): non-fruiting male with a broad, pyramidal form.

Ginkgo biloba or Ginkgo