Ginko Trees Must Die!

Trees rarely inspire hatred, but on the campus of the University of Iowa, everyone hates ginko trees. In the center of the Pentacrest, right in front of the entrance of the Registrar’s office, some idiot planted a female ginko tree. Every winter, all winter long, the tree drops its seed pods all over the sidewalk. The seeds produce an incredibly foul, persistent stench, which is very difficult to get off your shoes. Everyone that trods upon the seeds tracks the stench everywhere they go. Students and faculty have campaigned for years to get rid of the trees, and today in the Des Moines Register, this story appeared:



4 ginko trees to be removed


When I was a student, I had to walk past these trees every day, and I often fantasized about pouring a gallon of herbicide on their roots, which goes completely against my nature. I used to do landscaping every summer, I’ve planted thousands of trees, so I’m very protective of trees in general, but these ginkos are a special case. Every landscaper and nurseryman knows that you just don’t plant female ginkos. Most nurseries will kill off the females before they ever grow to maturity, there’s just no market for female ginkos. And you have to kill them before they mature, when the trees are sold in the spring, there’s no way to tell if they’re female, the sex of the trees can only be determined in autumn.

There’s a preposterous legend about how these trees came to be planted on the Pentacrest. I heard a story about a group of itinerant buddhist monks came and secretly planted little ginko twigs, sat around the twigs in a circle, chanting their sutras, and in 24 hours the trees grew to full size. What a load of rubbish. There just isn’t any group of Johnny Ginkoseed monks, and besides, these trees were planted right in front of the entrance of one of the main buildings on campus, you couldn’t have planted anything there without drawing attention, and a circle of orange-robed monks would have drawn quite a bit of attention back in the 1950s.

Another annoying piece of idiocy about ginkos is that nobody can agree on how to spell the name. Properly it is “ginko” since the tree is from asia and the name is written with kanji that are transliterated as “gin” and “ko.” So it’s most properly “ginko” and not “gingko” or “ginkgo.”

There is so much to loathe about ginko trees, I can hardly contain my joy at the announcement of their removal.

6 thoughts on “Ginko Trees Must Die!”

  1. Thank you for this info on female ginko trees. I have one in a home I just moved into, 40 years old. My small dog has started eating the fruit, and is getting sick, and throwing up from gourging himself! And everyone is hating the odor! I love trees, and always protect them, but felt like this one had to go. As I’ve researched on Google, I was feeling guilty. This article helps me to go ahead and remove it this weekend! Thank you for supporting my instincts, that female Ginko trees are not pleasant to live with!

  2. It’s a shame to cut down a mature 40 year old tree, and I will even admit the ginkos are pretty in the fall, with their bright golden leaves. But I completely understand your desire to chop it down, female ginkos are a horrible nuisance. Just be sure to plant a nice tree to replace it.

  3. Hi,
    Interesting reading, but I still believe these female trees have a place and use on this planet. Living on a farm with nothing but fields behind my home,I want to plant one of these trees which are very beautiful and have a grace of their own. The pods will not be stood on by humans,perhaps the odd cat,fox,pheasant or deer might trespass but on the whole the land will belong to my ginko. However,I would like to know if it is poisonous to animals and also I would like some advice generally. I look foreward to your reply.
    Christine
    [Certainly female ginko trees have a place, without them, there would be no ginko trees at all. Well actually, that’s not strictly true, as it is possible to propagate ginko trees asexually, by taking cuttings. But the female trees are necessary for the perpetuation of the species without human intervention.
    I have no problem with the female trees, except when they are planted in urban areas near high traffic footpaths, like this example I complained of. You might like to read my followup article, the University recently replaced the female ginko trees on this site.. with male ginko trees. –Charles]

  4. There’s a problem with male ginkos, though. Their pollen is highly allergenic. So now instead of dealing with smelly shoes, the folks who walk under them will have runny noses and headaches. Nice trade-off. Why didn’t landscaping just rake the nuts up? Folks in asia roast and eat them, but they could have just been composted in a far corner.
    [Well this is distressing news, I never considered the male trees’ pollen. And I am very allergic to tree pollen. I guess there is nothing good about ANY ginko tree, male or female. –Charles]

  5. I am getting ready to plant some ginko trees ~~ in the deep dark forest, away from common footfalls. The ? is this ~~ how do I know which baby ginko is which sex? Do I have to wait 10 or 20 years to find out? Any magic way to foretell??
    [I don’t know. A little unreliable research on the internet indicates you can only tell their sex when they bloom for the first time at maturity, which could take over 20 years. –Charles]

  6. If there are no male ginkos close by, perhaps the female tree will not produce fruit? Then the female trees would be preferred for folks that might have allergies to the male tree pollen.
    [I don’t know. I vaguely recall reading something about female ginkos being able to seed even without males present. But I refuse to spend more time researching these abhorrent trees. Ha. –Charles]

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