There are several reasons that the Ginkgo is one this plant geek's favorite trees. First of all, it is a living fossil that began appearing 270 million years ago, and it is the only currently living species in the Ginkgoaceae family. Think of all the plants that would show up at a family reunion of the Rosaceae, Cupressaceae or the Magnoliaceae families, you would need to rent a ballroom. The surviving members of the Gingoaceae family could hold their reunion in a phone booth. The Ginkgo has been planted and revered in Asia for thousands of years, but there is considerable doubt that any wild ones still remain. This tree will outlive its planter, and there are specimens in China over 1000 years old. One of the reasons this tree is so long lived, is that it is tough. It can tolerate temperatures in zones 3 to 8, and even into zone 9. It can survive in urban areas with heavy pollution, and it will live where other plants fail in those awful holes in concrete sidewalks that are well-intentionally left for trees. It is also very salt tolerant. I planted one for my parents next to their marsh, within sight of the Atlantic that is covered by salt water at least once a year and it thrives.
Here are a few more shots of a specimen in a local Norfolk park. These were taken just before the leaves turned golden earlier in November.
A very poignant, but great example of the Ginkgo's durability, comes from Hiroshima. When the atomic bomb was dropped on the city near the end of WWII, most living things in the city-center were killed instantly, but four Ginkgo trees managed to survive. Their charred broken trunks re-sprouted where they were planted and thrive to this day.
I found a great website created by Cor Kwant on the Ginkgo at:
It includes pictures of the surviving Hiroshima Ginkgo trees at: