I will survive
The forebears of the Ginkgo family (Ginkgoaceae) were found all over the world about 160 million years ago. Gradually, having experienced their heyday in the Jurassic period, the family members declined and only the Ginkgo tree that we know today survived, in a couple of provinces in Eastern China.
This lonely orphan was originally designated as a conifer. Although it evolved separately from these trees, it remains technically under that heading. The sole survivor of its originally widespread family, it is now the oldest living tree species and considerably tougher than old boots. It has withstood two ice ages and even atomic blasts can’t discourage it: standing proud within a mile of the Hiroshima epicentre are several large Ginkgo trees, and Alfred Vogel noticed some very fine specimens near Nagasaki when visiting Japan.
Ginkgo trees take a long, long time to mature, with one Chinese emperor waiting for most of his lifetime for the fruit of his transplanted Ginkgo tree to grace his meal table. Vogel planted a Ginkgo tree in his garden in 1973 and it is doing well. Kew Gardens received a specimen from Japan in the 1760s, and it is now noted as one of the best ancient trees in the UK. ‘Ginkgo’ means silver nut or apricot, and the word ‘biloba’ refers to the bi-lobed leaf shape.
The trees are venerated in Asia, often found planted near to Buddhist temples. The oldest known specimen, over 1,000 years old, is found at a temple in South Korea.
Diseases and insects attack these trees to no avail. Modern day atmospheric pollutants seem unable to deter them from strong growth. They genuinely appear able to weather all storms. This may be due to the amount of antioxidants found in the plant itself, which in turn makes it of benefit to those who supplement their diet with extracts from the tree.