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

More Information

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 Description

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.

Care Knowledge

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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