The Secrets of the Living Fossil in the Botanic Kingdom

Last Saturday, and led by a botanical expert, 30 children stepped into the most beautiful gingko village – Yangjia Village in Fuyang District, to witness a remarkable species, praised as “the Living Fossil in the Botanic Kingdom”.

Why are gingkoes commonly-seen but precious?

Scattered everywhere in streets, gardens and scenic areas, gingko trees are not rare at all, they are, in fact, considered as a precious species in botany. Why?

As a matter of fact, the gingko is the only surviving plant that belongs to Class Ginkgopsida and therefore botanical experts consider them as “the Living Fossil in the Botanic Kingdom”. The survival of the gingko is closely related with humans, as people began to plant gingkoes because of the value in them. “It is the ‘selfish’ behavior that saved gingkoes”, said Chen Chuan, a botanical doctor from Hangzhou Botanical Garden, “apart from the name of ‘the Living Fossil’, the gingko is also called a ‘relict plant’ for the reason that they live strongly and lonely while all other botanical sisters and brothers die out.

How to differentiate the gender of gingkoes?

After a two-hour drive, the children arrived at Yangjia Village. Although small, with many gingko trees, most of which are one-hundred-year-old or older, the village is embroiled in a splendid golden light.

“I guess you guys are all familiar with gingko leaves, but is there anyone that has ever seen gingko flowers?” Dr. Chen asked the group.

“I guess gingkoes have flowers, but they hide them, because even figs have their own flowers”, a child answered in a convincing tone.

“That’s right. Gingko flowers keep in low profile and the green flowers, which are not in normal blossom shape, are hidden in the leaves”, Chen explained, “and in fact, gingko trees have female trees and male trees, and do you know how to differentiate them?”

The question is a little hard for the children, so they all remained in silence for a few seconds, and then Dr. Chen explained, “in general, we can differentiate the gender of gingkoes by their branches. The branches of male gingko trees stretch densely while in contrast, the branches of female ones spread out in a sparse manner to gain more space for the fruit”.

As the night fell, 30 children went back home content with their new understanding of the gingko.