Should female ginkgos be illegal?

IMG_1843A golden carpet greeted me by the library as I walked to my office in Wilson. The ginkgo leaves had fallen all at once in Monday night’s hard freeze. We have an entire plaza of ginkgos there, glistening like yellow snow. But not one of these trees is female.

Did you know some trees have different sexes? The are called dioecious. IMG_1835I suppose you could say humans are dioecious, but I won’t trouble you with any more botanical sex.

To see a female ginkgo, you have to walk down the Wash U steps towards Forest Park. Stay on the home side of Lindell and a few houses down are a couple of female trees. The odoriferous fruits crush under our feet. I wondered if they are edible. Apparently the nuts are, but getting into them is laborious.

IMG_1839I learned of ginkgos as a child. I learned that the species we have now is the only one left of an ancient plant group. I thought they were incredibly rare and saved ginkgo leaves in my childhood diary. But soon enough I learned that this species, Ginkgo biloba is not so rare. I still feel it is special. Its medicinal qualities may be important, or so the Mayo Clinic implies.

Female ginkgos are not popular in cities. Their fruit ferments. Their round nuts trip people. They leave a mauve slime on the pavement. But should they be illegal?IMG_1848

Before the day was out, my illustrious university had sucked up the shimmering carpet of rich leaves. I’ll try not to take any message about the complete lack of female trees.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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1 Response to Should female ginkgos be illegal?

  1. Nash Turley says:

    I was quite excited to find a bunch of female Ginkos on a street in Washington DC, not far from the mall. I thought it was great but wondered if everyone else hated them…

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