City Cast

Get to Know the Ginkgo Tree

Brittany Valentine
Brittany Valentine
Posted on November 23, 2022   |   Updated on June 21
The golden yellow leaves of the infamous ginkgo biloba tree. (Maple's Photographs/Getty Images)

The golden yellow leaves of the infamous ginkgo biloba tree. (Maple's Photographs/Getty Images)

Ginkgo biloba, otherwise known as the maidenhair tree, is a popular and elegant addition to many urban landscapes. Although it is native to China, this beautiful tree can be found all over Philly, especially throughout Rittenhouse Square and South Philly.  

That huge gingko tree at South Philly’s Bartram’s Garden is believed to be the oldest living gingko in North America, dating back to the 1700s.  

Its leaves are well loved by urban planners due to their graceful shape and vivid yellow, autumnal colors. In China, these trees symbolize yin and yang energy and are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat circulatory problems such as asthma, vertigo, fatigue, and tinnitus. 

Ginkgos are some of the most tough and resilient trees in the world. Some urban trees have been growing strong and flourishing for over 100 years. 

Typically, ginkgo leaves fall all at once. But this year, Philly residents have noticed that the leaves are not falling on schedule. Instead they are remaining green rather than turning golden yellow. 

Why is this happening? Well, botanist Peter Crane told Billy Penn that one possible reason could be the weather. Philly experienced record-breaking heat waves over the summer and we began November with a string of warm days. Don’t worry, this resilient tree will be alright.

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