Erica's Original Notes If a brontosaurus was found in a local park, it would create a great deal of interest, and yet a far older member of that historic world goes unnoticed on the our streets -- the ginkgo!
Long before the dinosaurs trod the earth, the ginkgo flourished, and when other plants and animals became extinct or modified, this powerful tree resisted the pressures of change and time. However, it was finally driven back by climatic changes to China -- its last stronghold -- where it was gathered into the protection of the temple gardens.
Having separate male and female trees, it projected for the Chinese the influence of yin and yang, maintaining a perfect balance of serenity. The leaves that fall to the ground today are exactly the same as those that fell 200 million years ago and may be seen in fossil beds at Manning Park. Because of its graceful and controlled growth and its resistance to pollution, it is a popular street tree in cities -- only in its male form because the fruit has an odour of very ripe cheese!
The ginkgo was first introduced to the UK in 1758 and is also known as the Maidenhair tree because the leaves resemble the fern of the same name. In the progression of phyta (algae, fungi, mosses and ferns), we find the ginkgo comes before the conifers and carries some interesting hangovers from its ferny predecessors, such as motile sperms.
Ginkgo is the Japanese version of the Chinese name 'yin-kuo' meaning 'silver fruit,' the kernels of which are delicious when roasted.
Updates 2013 (MG): Ginkgos are found just to the west of the entry plaza, and an unusual weeping variety is at the corner of the road leading to the waterfall.