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Ginko query

 
Posts: 93
Location: Door County, WI
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Hey all. It's been a while since I got on here, I love that this place continues to thrive. Im wondering if any of you (Ms Stobart, mayhaps?...) have any experience growing ginko from seed? I've attempted several times to sprout the lil buggers indoors and out, tried soaking them in a super light solution of kelp extract, even tried cold stratification in bags of good forest soil in the fridge, but no luck yet. Any input or suggestions are heartily encouraged, and new methods will be pursued in the order in which they are received. Thankee kindly.
 
Posts: 155
Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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I have not successfully sprouted them yet as the seeds are currently sitting in the fridge. But my packet of ginkgo seeds from Sheffield Seeds came with these instructions:

"Refrigerate for long term storage prior to treatment.
Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours.
Stratification: cold stratify for 60 days.
Germination: sow 1-2 inches deep, keep moist, mulch the seed bed, can be sown outdoors in the fall for spring germination.
Other: stratification improves germination, but is not required."

Now that I'm thinking about it (and have the bag of seeds out of the fridge) I'm going to start the 24 hour soak :)
 
gardener
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I have a friend who successfully did so, and then the plants died while young from neglect. I did successfully germinate Z. jujuba and the key there was to gently scarify (essentially I used my son's modelling file to thin the seed pod in one area). Ginkgo biloba is different, but if the seeds are tough and you've got enough you can experiment with a few, I'd consider it.

I have been given a rooted cutting of one which still needs its "forever home", but I will have to look for seeds also as I'm HIGHLY suspicious due to its providence that it is a male and Ginko's bare only one sex of flower/tree. I complained about this in a different post because my Seaberry shrub was complaining about his lack of female companionship!
 
pollinator
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i've done it a number of times without much issue, stratifying in a pot outside over winter with fresh seed - my standard tree seed germination technique.
 
Ben Johansen
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greg mosser wrote:i've done it a number of times without much issue, stratifying in a pot outside over winter with fresh seed - my standard tree seed germination technique.



Dammit Greg! Some of us are trying to over think this!
 
author
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I have not grown ginkgo from seed at Holt Wood Herbs as we have a UK nursery supplier who does it better. But I want to mention a couple of things about medicinal ginkgo. This is an incredibly adaptable tree, and it will get to 100 ft tall if allowed to grow but can be readily pruned so we have one in our cottage garden kept about 12 ft high. It has a growth habit not unlike birch so can work well with other trees and provide dappled shade. Situation can be poor soil, urban context, drought and pollution well-tolerated too. The ginkgo leaves are essentially a world commodity for their anti-inflammatory effects. They have been used in many disorders of circulation from eye problems to dementia, memory loss and tinnitus. The research to support these uses is extensive, mainly based on a particular standardised extract - so most commercial versions are in tablet/capsule form (there are research reference details in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook). Thus ginkgo is widely cultivated in plantations which are coppiced for continuing leaf production in Asia and Europe. If you want your own ginkgo supply then it is advised that consitituents are maximised in late summer just before leaves start to yellow. Dry the leaves in single layers and they can be kept 12-24 months and used for tea. If you want your own edible seed, beware, the content of butyric acid can be smelly, also you need female trees well over 30 years old!
Ginkgo-biloba-dried.jpeg
Dried Ginkgo biloba leaf
Dried Ginkgo biloba leaf
 
Andrea Locke
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I like the idea of coppicing to keep the leaves within reach and this is what I was planning to do with mine actually. I guess if a person wanted fruit the trees should not be coppiced though, is that right?
 
Jay Angler
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Anne Stobart wrote:

If you want your own edible seed, beware, the content of butyric acid can be smelly, also you need female trees well over 30 years old!

Good to know - I guess that would be another thing I'd be planting for the next generation rather than for myself! (I planted a young "Monkey Puzzle Tree" - Araucaria araucana - and it possibly won't even tell me its sex before I'm gone.)

I'll be very interested in the answer to Andrea Locke's question also! I've heard that some plants produce better when coppiced and actually live longer.
 
Ben Johansen
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Anne, do you happen to know anything about ginko's origins? The area of the world where it comes from? I've heard that it's sort of a living fossil, that most trees and plants like it died out during the ice age. Kind of wondering if there are clues to it's preferences in where it survived the cold time...
 
Ben Johansen
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Probably definitely over thinking it, but I like going deep on this shiz.
 
gardener
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Location: Western Washington
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I believe it survived in China. Here's a page on it from Burnt Ridge. They have a few in stock that you might consider ordering. It talks a little about their history

https://www.burntridgenursery.com/Ginkgo-Trees/products/64/
 
Ben Johansen
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Wikipedia:
"Although Ginkgo biloba and other species of the genus were once widespread throughout the world, its range shrank until by two million years ago, it was restricted to a small area of China.

For centuries, it was thought to be extinct in the wild, but is now known to grow in at least two small areas in Zhejiang province in eastern China, in the Tianmushan Reserve. However, high genetic uniformity exists among ginkgo trees from these areas, arguing against a natural origin of these populations and suggesting the ginkgo trees in these areas may have been planted and preserved by Chinese monks over a period of about 1,000 years. This study demonstrates a greater genetic diversity in Southwestern China populations, supporting glacial refugia in mountains surrounding eastern Tibetan Plateau, where several old-growth candidates for wild populations have been reported. Whether native ginkgo populations still exist has not been demonstrated unequivocally, but evidence grows favouring these Southwestern populations as wild, from genetic data but also from history of those territories, with bigger Ginkgo biloba trees being older than surrounding human settlements.

Where it occurs in the wild, it is found infrequently in deciduous forests and valleys on acidic loess (i.e. fine, silty soil) with good drainage. The soil it inhabits is typically in the pH range of 5.0 to 5.5."

Also, this is a pretty concise lil pdf treatise as well:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ppp3.7&ved=2ahUKEwip_fmMr_zpAhWoCTQIHRX-DEsQFjASegQIBBAB&usg=AOvVaw0RO1qBx5hr_1pvTnRRub8m

Seems like Anne is spot on though, if it like a low pH like that, it would likely appreciate a good amount of organic material, i.e. an established forest. There are lots of black locusts around here, maybe I'll find an existing grove and plunk a couple seeds down in the fall. Hot tips, y'all! Thanks!
 
Andrea Locke
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Ben Johansen wrote:Anne, do you happen to know anything about ginko's origins? The area of the world where it comes from? I've heard that it's sort of a living fossil, that most trees and plants like it died out during the ice age. Kind of wondering if there are clues to it's preferences in where it survived the cold time...



This was a great question and as an ecologist is exactly the sort of thing I tend to get a bit obsessive about! Insomnia kicked in last night so I spent a little time reading up on the history of ginkgo. At the bottom of this post I'll add some links that I found that were extremely interesting. Briefly, what I learned is that it is one of the most ancient trees and over its long history has lived in many parts of the world - during different climate conditions has survived by moving its range north or south - during Early Eocene times 50-55 million years ago it was up in the Canadian Arctic. At one point it was native to the Pacific Northwest. Over the past thousand years it survived in only a few areas of China. In the 1980s it was thought there were no wild ginkgo left in China and that the only ones that remained had been nurtured by Buddhist monks. This was later found to be incorrect once populations of wild ginkgo were found in China, but has remained as a sort of ginkgo 'urban myth'. That's not to say that the Buddhist monks didn't keep a population going, but this was not the only population that survived. Over time the genetics of the surviving species of ginkgo have been amazingly invariant - very little effect of evolution. At one time there were other closely related species but they did not survive.

There is lots more but I'll let you read it for yourself in the links.

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ppp3.7

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4450937?seq=1     (note, this one has a paywall but the bit about ginkgo is on the first page which is free)

http://blogs.nature.com/soapboxscience/2011/11/02/the-living-dinosaur

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/how-ginkgo-biloba-achieves-near-immortality

https://kwanten.home.xs4all.nl/history.htm











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