Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Old Main Meadow, south of Edens Hall Map

Not the largest tree on campus, but arguably the most beautiful, this is a thriving example of a species that dates back at least 200 million years. (Dinosaurs gazed on trees identical to this. Did they eat them, one wonders?) Ginkgo leaves, which suddenly turn golden in fall, are unmistakable; their unique shape gives rise to the name "Maidenhair tree" by which the species is known in England. (The logic behind this completely escapes the present author). Other ginkgos worth admiring are located along the western side of the Engineering Technology building.

Record ginkgos are found in Asia, where they can reach a height of over 150 ft. and a trunk diameter of 10 ft. The WWU ginkgo, while large, is only about 100 ft. tall and 1 3/4 ft. in diameter.

Most trees planted for landscaping purposes are male; fruit produced by the female of the species emits an odor described variously as "fetid", "vile", or simply "unpleasant." Oddly enough, ginkgo fruit is a prized culinary delicacy in parts of Asia.

Extracts from the ginkgo are used medicinally in some cultures. Your Web browser will supply many uses of Ginkgo biloba in so-called "alternative medicine."