Maidenhair – Ginkgo Biloba

Tree of the Week

11th February 2020 | Info

[Image: Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba) taken at Kew Gardens]

Common name: Maidenhair Tree  

Scientific name: Ginkgo biloba 

Introduction: Maidenhairs are non-UK native deciduous conifer trees that are now in a genus of their own. They are distinctly beautiful trees and are originally native to China.  


Leaves: Bright green and fan-shaped with two lobes. In between changing itcolour in autumn, the leaves can become two-toned with both golden-yellow and green bands. Its full autumn colour is a golden-yellow.  

[Image: Leaves of a Maidenhair (Ginkgo biloba)

Buds: Small flat and conical. Light brown in colour and are enclosed by small leaves.   

Bark: Pale greyish brown. Fissures develop as the tree matures.  

[Image: The bark of a Maidenhair (Ginkgo biloba)

Form: Irregular spreading crown and tend to be quite narrow.  


Maidenhairs are dioecious trees. Male flowers form as long, yellow catkins. On female trees, flowers bloom in March from perennial shoots on leaf axils. These female flowers typically form in pairs on the stalks. After wind pollination, the flowers then form yellow ‘fruits’ (seed balls) which have a distinctive (and un-pleasant) smell and contains a large seed in the middle. The fruits then eventually fall.

Growth Habit

Slow to Medium growth rate but can grow to reach up to 25m tall. On average, they take between 20-50 years to reach their maximum height.

Interesting Facts

Ginkgo biloba are living fossils that were rediscovered in China in the late 1600s and came to the UK in the 1700s. They were traditionally used in China as part of traditional medicine. The Maidenhair is also a very resilient tree, as represented by the six, still standing trees that remain near the site of Hiroshima. The six trees survived the drop of the atomic bomb and despite being burnt, recovered quickly and are still going strong today. 

Properties of Maidenhair Wood and its Uses

Soft and light-quality wood. They are rarely cultivated for pure wood but are favoured for panel wood and are used for carving. 

Styling of Maidenhair and Uses

Typically grown as street trees or as ornamental and specimen trees, including as bonsais. They are particularly grown as street trees as they are tolerant of air pollution and road salt. It is recommended that you plant male trees as they are flower-less and therefore less smelly and messy!

Associated Pests and Diseases

Particularly resistant to pests and diseases. 


Pruning and Pruning Qualities: No pruning required unless wanting to slow down the rate at which the crown begins to widen, and to keep it in a more narrow shape.  

Growth Rate after Pruning: If carried out when young, pruning can help to slow down the rate at which the crown widens.  

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