the ginkgo biloba leaves and fruit
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Ginkgo Biloba Seed


Ginkgo is classified as a gymnosperm translated as ”naked seed” because of its unique characteristic common to all gymnosperms and that is the biloba ginkgo seeds are not enclosed in a ripened fruits but by fleshy seed coat.

Since biloba ginkgo tree is dioecious, male and females grow separately. The female tree produces plentiful of ovules in pairs on stalks. Each ovule contain an egg cell which appear very green at the onset but changed into greenish-yellow then finally orange and brown. They have the appearance of a cherry. These ovules will take 20-35 years to appear. And they appear in spring because the sunny position makes them more reliable. Pollen cones similar to catkin which contains the sperms of the male tree also grow on spring after 20-35 years. Pollination is made possible by the wind. The female tree can carry sterile biloba ginkgo seeds without the pollination. The actual fertilization of the biloba ginkgo seed occurs on the tree.

Fertilized ovules become yellowish, plumlike biloba ginkgo seeds about 2.5 cms. in length. This Biloba ginkgo seed consist of a large “nut” as large as almond surrounded by a fleshy outer layer. Fertilization of the biloba ginkgo seed by free swimming sperm occurs predominantly on the tree. Ginkgo and the cycads are the only living seed-producing plants (spermatophytes) that have motile or free swimming sperm. Because of this, the ginkgo is considered as a vital sole living link between the lower and higher plants- ferns and conifers. Sakuro Hirase found swimming sperms in the biloba ginkgo seeds of a female tree in the Botanical garden Todaifuzoku in Tokyo on September 9, 1896.

The biloba ginkgo seed has silvery coating. The biloba ginkgo seed’s fleshy seedcoat has a disagreeable odor similar to that of a rancid butter when it decays and fall to the ground.

This is due to the presence of butyric acid a common by-product of many plants and animals. The tissues of the biloba ginko seed’s fleshy coat can cause nausea or skin eruptions in man. The inner part of the biloba ginkgo seed is palatable. Female trees are preferred in China because of the biloba ginkgo seeds which are used for medicinal purposes. In China, the people mostly use the biloba ginkgo seed for treatment. But make them less popular choice as ornamental plants in pedestrian lanes because of the mess the flesh of the biloba ginkgo seeds make.

The period for the fleshy biloba ginkgo seeds to fall doesn’t last long however and by cleaning up regularly a lot of this mess from biloba ginkgo seeds could be prevented. Fresh nutritious biloba ginkgo seeds and canned varieties with fleshy seed coats of these biloba ginkgo seeds removed are sold especially in the Orient.

The large “nut” inside the biloba ginkgo seeds has long been used in China for medicine. This “nut” in biloba ginkgo seed is particulary used to cure asthma, coughs, bronchitis, etc.

In China, it is widely believed that biloba ginkgo seeds marked with two ribs produce female trees. While those biloba ginkgo seeds with three ribs produce male. Also, it is a common practice that biloba ginkgo seeds are sown in a way that they face each other. Those biloba ginkgo seeds with three ribs should be planted on a waterside.

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