Suitable Trees: Ginkgo

Ginkgo leaves in Autumn colour

Ginkgo Biloba (a.k.a the Maidenhair tree), together with Larch, Swamp Cypress and Dawn Redwood is a conifer that sheds its leaves over winter. Until the 1940's it was known only from fossilised leaves and assumed to be extinct, however living specimins were discovered in China. The tree is sexual, that is to say a tree is either male or femail.

It makes a good Bonsai, but due to it's growth patterns tends to be difficult to style, and hence should be allowed to take on its own shape. This tends to be that of the flame of a candle. The tree does not like to be wired and any changes are best made by pruning to a bud pointing in the desired direction.

It can in all other respects be treated as any other bonsai, having no unusual needs as far as feeding or watering. It will however need winter protection as it has very soft roots.

In the UK Ginkgo are generally available as trained bonsai, or garden trees, however they take readily from hardwood cuttings, and as a mature garden tree often produce suckers, which when removed with some root will take quickly. The female plant produces seed, these are born as a sort of grey/green berry, and will if chilled over winter germinate over the next few years, assuming there is a male tree nearby.

The soft, new foliage of the Ginkgo can be pruned by either pinching out, or with tools. Cuts made into old wood however, will take a long time to heal over.

This Ginkgo is in my collection and has a recorded history of about 120 years.


Ginkgo berries and the nuts they contain

Suitable Styles

Suits only informal upright styles

Allen. C. Roffey 21/01/00