The Ginkgo biloba Tree: History, Facts, and Herbal Uses
The Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair) tree is a living fossil and it dates back 270 million years ago. It was rediscovered in 1691 in China. Its survival is said to be owed to its adaptability, resistance to disease, and to Buddhist monks who grew and preserved the trees on sacred grounds. The Ginkgo was introduced to the United States in 1784.
The Ginkgo grows well in Zones 3-8. The average maximum height is 25 to 50 feet. It does well in full sun and partial shade. It has the ability to tolerate drought, heat, and poor soils. The leaves are green in the summer and yellow in the fall. There are almost unnoticeable flowers and there is small, tan fruit produced by the female trees. Some complain of the mess and odor of the fruit; therefore, it is recommended to only plant the male species. Individual trees may live as long as 3,000 years.
Ginkgo extract has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginkgo may improve blood flow in the brain and body, reduce inflammation, and act as an antioxidant. More specifically, Ginkgo may be helpful in the treatment of circulatory disorders, asthma and allergies, mental decline, memory and concentration problems, anxiety, stress, and mood problems.
Information sources Arbor Day Foundation; http://www.arborday.org/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ID=162 Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy; http://www.herballegacy.com/Nelson_Ginkgo_History.html The National Arboretum Canberra; http://www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au/visit/trees/tree_stories/the_ginkgo WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/ginkgo-biloba