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The ginkgo tree has fan-shaped leaves.
Ginkgo is a hardy, pest-resistant, and attractive large tree. It has unusual fan-shaped leaves that turn vivid yellow in fall. Only male trees should be purchased, as the females produce seeds with a soft, fruitlike covering that can be messy and 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):


Family (Botanic):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median,
  • Restricted sites

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

Mature Height:

50-80 feet

Mature Width:


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


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

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

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • 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.

Location of Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo) at the Arboretum