A Digression for a Really Cool Tree

I know I said that it would be all house plants all the time henceforth, but something happened this past weekend that only happens once a year and I think it’s cool enough to post about.


Unfortunately, I didn’t get the “before” photo, but on Saturday morning, when I walked the dog, this tree was in full leaf.

On Sunday when I walked her, it was completely bare.


Even prettier, the ground is covered in this puddle of gold leaves. The tree literally defoliated overnight. And it does this every year. I’ve been watching for this because I know that it happens. It usually happens right around this date–November 15th.

This year it was slightly earlier–overnight November 9th. I can only think it’s because we are having such unreasonably chilly weather. It was 22 degrees on Saturday November 8th for a low–so that probably caused the early leaf drop.

What tree does this? It’s the gingko biloba. And yes, this is a female tree, so it makes fruits. I have heard all sorts of things about how one should only plant male trees because the females are incredibly stinky but as someone who has walked dogs around and under this trees for 25 years, I’ve never noticed an unpleasant odor–even when the fruits are all over the ground and crushed. Supposedly it is the butyric acid in the rotting, crushed fruit that makes these trees smell.

I can’t say that I have ever noticed that–but I can say that the fruit is uncommonly attractive to schnauzers. Most of mine have eaten it with no trouble. The current one loves the fruit as well but it doesn’t agree with her. Must be that pesky acid. And yes, I recognize that it is NOT a recommended dog treat.

So I try to give the tree a wide berth and admire it from across the street with this particular dog–but I do admire the tree.

2 thoughts on “A Digression for a Really Cool Tree

  1. tonytomeo November 27, 2019 / 9:49 pm

    All cultivars grown as landscape stock now are male. Female trees are uncommonly available from mail order catalogues or online. Years ago, before modern male cultivars were developed, they were commonly grown from seed, so could be either gender. When I was in high school, I went with friends (only a few times) to pick up the nasty fruit that had fallen from street trees near downtown San Jose. It was bad enough that they ate that stuff, but even worse that they ate if off of those sidewalks! I couldn’t argue. they loved it. The big seeds are also edible. I have never seen the fruit in Vietnamese markets, but have seen the seeds.

  2. gardendaze November 28, 2019 / 5:29 am

    I can’t say that I have ever seen it sold, but I haven’t been to the Vietnamese markets near me. Obviously I haven’t eaten the fruit from this tree–it would be like eating off the street, which is like your friends and the sidewalk.

    They are lovely trees–several new buildings and offices have planted them recently. I always love to see them.


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