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(gĭng`kō) or

maidenhair tree,

tall, slender, picturesque deciduous tree (Ginkgo biloba) with fan-shaped leaves. The ginkgo is native to E China, where it was revered by Buddhist monks and planted near temples. A "living fossil," the ginkgo is the only remaining species of a large order (Ginkgoales) of gymnosperms that existed in the Triassic period. Its form has not changed in millions of years, as is shown by fossils widely scattered over Europe, North and South America, and Asia. The ginkgo is valued today as a street tree, being exceptionally tolerant of smoke, low temperatures, and minimal water supply. The male and female strobile (see conecone
or strobilus
, in botany, reproductive organ of the gymnosperms (the conifers, cycads, and ginkgoes). Like the flower in the angiosperms (flowering plants), the cone is actually a highly modified branch; unlike the flower, it does not have sepals or petals.
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) are borne on separate trees. The "fruit," botanically a seed, is surrounded by a malodorous pulp, making the male trees more desirable as ornamentals; however, the seed kernel is highly esteemed in East Asia as a food. The herbal remedy ginkgo biloba, an extract of ginkgo leaves, is said to enhance concentration and short-term memory. The ginkgo is classified in the division PinophytaPinophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called gymnosperms. The gymnosperms, a group that includes the pine, have stems, roots and leaves, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Ginkgoopsida, order Ginkgoales, family Ginkgoaceae.



a deciduous gymnospermous tree of the order Ginkgo. The only modern representative is the Ginkgobiloba. Height, 30-40 m; trunk diameter, 1 m. The tree has a branchy crown and is dioecious. Its leaf has a petiole and is fan-shaped. The seeds are ellipsoid, 2-3 cm long, with fleshy outer shells. The ginkgo is found in a few regions of East Asia. In Europe ginkgos have been grown as decorative trees since 1754. In the USSR, they winter well on the Black Sea coasts of the Caucasus and Ukraine.


A dioecious tree, commonly known as the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), that is native to China and is cultivated as a shade tree, it is the only surviving species of the class Ginkgoatae and is considered a living fossil. Also known as gingko tree.