Content Detail

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. 

  • Family (English) Ginkgo
  • Family (botanic) Ginkgoaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Broad, Pyramidal, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

Ginkgo is 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:

Ginkgo has simple, alternate, fan-shaped leaves in clusters of three to five on spurs or singly on long shoots. They are usually notched at the tip and 2 to 3 inches long.

Flower arrangement size and shape:

There are inconspicuous, male and female flowers on separate trees (dioecious).

Fruit, cone, nut and seed descriptions:

Ginkgo does not have a true fruit, but a seed with a fleshy covering. It is produced only on female trees and is apricot colored with a silvery cast. They are messy and they produce a strong odor. Therefore, only male cultivars should be bought.

Plant care:

Ginkgo is a relatively low maintenance tree. It is best to prune in spring.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

There aren’t any serious pest problems. Ginkgo tolerates salt, heat, drought, and alkaline soil.

Autumn Gold ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’):

This cultivar is a non-fruiting male with uniform conical habit becoming broader with age. It has an outstanding yellow autumn color.

Emperor™ ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Woodstock’):

It is a non-fruiting male with upright-oval shape and a strong central leader. It will grow to 50 feet high and 40 feet wide. This is a Chicagoland Grows™ introduction.

Golden Colonade® ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘JFS-UGA2’):

This cultivar is a non-fruiting male with a strong central leader and narrow-oval form. It will grow to 45 feet high and 25 feet wide.

Jade Butterfly ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Jade Butterfly’): 

A non-fruiting male dwarf cultivar reaching 12 to 15 feet high with leaves in dense clusters.

Magyar ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Magyar’):

This specimen is a narrow, non-fruiting male with upright, ascending branching.

Mariken ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Mariken’):

A non-fruiting male dwarf cultivar growing three to four feet high and wide.

Presidential Gold® ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘The President’):

It is a non-fruiting male with a dense upright form and strong central leader that will grow to 50 feet high and 40 feet wide.

Princeton Sentry ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘Princeton Sentry’):

This cultivar is a non-fruiting male that assumes an upright, nearly columnar form that tapers to a point.

Sky Tower ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘JN9’):

A non-fruiting male narrow, compact cultivar that reaches 15 to 20 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide.


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