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Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Zones A3, 1-10, 12, 14-24, 26, 28-44
Full Sun
Regular Water

Ginkgo biloba

Maidenhair Tree
Deciduous, Trees

Ancient survivor from prehistoric times (200 million years ago), when it grew worldwide; now native only to two small areas in China. Graceful tree, attractive in any season, especially in fall, when leathery light green leaves of spring and summer suddenly turn gold (they practically glow when backlit by the sun). Leaves hang on for a time, then drop quickly and cleanly to make golden carpet where they fall.

Related to conifers but differs in having broad (1–4-in.-wide), fan-shaped leaves rather than needlelike foliage. In shape and veining, the leaves resemble leaflets of maidenhair fern, hence the tree’s common name. Can grow to 70–80 ft. tall, but most mature trees are 35–50 ft. May be gawky in youth, but becomes well proportioned with age; narrow to spreading, or even umbrella-shaped. Typical width is no more than one-half to two-thirds the height. Usually grows slowly, about 1 ft. a year, but under ideal conditions can grow up to 3 ft. a year.

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