Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ode to the Ginkgo Tree

This week, the Times picked up an AP story about US cities removing perfectly healthy ginkgo trees because of the "stink bomb" seeds they drop this time of year. A forester (a forester!) in Iowa City commented that these seeds present a sanitation problem, noting, "No matter what we do, two seconds after we leave, there are more on the ground and somebody can step in it." I find this absolutely ridiculous. It's nature, people! God forbid you get your Manolos messy walking down the sidewalk. (Do people wear Manolos in Iowa City?)

Ginkgo trees are amazing. First off, they are one of the few species of trees in this country that is dioecious
, meaning it is distinctly male or female (it's the females that drop the "stink bombs"). They are also incredibly hardy and resilient trees, making them uniquely suitable as urban street trees. As the AP article points out, there were some ginkgoes that survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima. And they are beautiful, as evidenced by this grove of female ginkgoes in Fort Greene Park.

So, watch your step, but don't cut down healthy trees.


  1. Did you know that the "stink balls," as you used to call them in Philly - are considered delicacies in some cuisines?

  2. the leaves are great too-like a million green butterfly wings!

  3. "Ode to the Ginkgo Tree?" More like, "Odor of the Ginkgo Tree."