AskDefine | Define ginkgo

Dictionary Definition

ginkgo n : deciduous dioecious Chinese tree having fan-shaped leaves and fleshy yellow seeds; exists almost exclusively in cultivation especially as an ornamental street tree [syn: gingko, maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba] [also: ginkgoes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Chinese 銀杏 (yínxìng) "silver apricot". The same characters are used in Japanese (ichō) and Korean (eunhang). The Japanese characters used to write ginkgo look as though they could be read ginkyō, and this was the name Engelbert Kaempfer, the first Westerner to see the species in 1690, wrote down in his Amoenitates Exoticae (1712). However, his y was misread as a g, and the misspelling stuck.


  1. A Chinese tree with small fan-shaped leaves and edible seeds.
  2. The seed of the ginkgo tree.



See also

Extensive Definition

Ginkgo is a genus of highly unusual non-flowering plants with one extant species, G. biloba regarded as a living fossil.


Fossils recognisably related to modern Ginkgo biloba date back to the Permian, some 270 million years ago. The genus diversified and spread throughout Laurasia during the middle Jurassic and Cretaceous, but became much rarer thereafter. By the Paleocene, Ginkgo adiantoides was the only Ginkgo species extant in the Northern Hemisphere with a markedly different (but not well-documented) form persisting in the Southern Hemisphere. At the end of the Pliocene, Ginkgo fossils disappeared from the fossil record everywhere apart from a small area of central China where the modern species survived. It is in fact doubtful whether the Northern Hemisphere fossil species of Ginkgo can be reliably distinguished; given the slow pace of evolution in the genus, there may have been only 2 in total; what is today called G. biloba (including G. adiantoides), and G. gardneri from the Paleocene of Scotland.
At least morphologically, G. gardneri and the Southern Hemisphere species are the only known post-Jurassic taxa that can be unequivocally recognised, the remainder may just as well have simply been ecotypes or subspecies. The implications would be that G. biloba had occurred over an extremely wide range, had remarkable genetic flexibility and though evolving genetically never showed much speciation. The occurrence of G. gardneri, seemingly a Caledonian mountain endemic, and the somewhat greater diversity on the Southern Hemisphere, suggests that old mountain ranges on the Northern Hemisphere could hold other, presently undiscovered, fossil Ginkgo species. Since the distribution of Ginkgo was already relictual in late prehistoric times, the chances that ancient DNA from subfossils can shed any light on this problem seem remote. While it may seem improbable that a species may exist as a contiguous entity for many millions of years, many of the Ginkgo's life-history parameters fit. These are: extreme longevity; slow reproduction rate; (in Cenozoic and later times) a wide, apparently contiguous, but steadily contracting distribution coupled with, as far as can be demonstrated from the fossil record, extreme ecological conservatism (being restricted to light soils around rivers); and a low population density.
Ginkgo has been used for classifying plants with leaves that have more than four veins per segment, while Baiera for those with less than four veins per segment. Sphenobaiera has been used to classify plants with a broadly wedge-shaped leaf that lacks a distinct leaf stem. Trichopitys is distinguished by having multiple-forked leaves with cylindrical (not flattened) thread-like ultimate divisions; it is one of the earliest fossils ascribed to the Ginkgophyta.


ginkgo in Arabic: جنكو
ginkgo in Bulgarian: Гинко
ginkgo in Catalan: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Danish: Tempeltræ
ginkgo in German: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Modern Greek (1453-): Γκίγκο
ginkgo in Esperanto: Ginko
ginkgo in Estonian: Hõlmikpuu
ginkgo in Persian: ژینکو
ginkgo in Finnish: Neidonhiuspuut
ginkgo in Galician: Xingko
ginkgo in Hebrew: גינקגו דו אונתי
ginkgo in Japanese: イチョウ
ginkgo in Georgian: გინკგო
ginkgo in Korean: 은행나무
ginkgo in Latin: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Luxembourgish: Ginkgobam
ginkgo in Latvian: Ginki
ginkgo in Norwegian: Tempeltre
ginkgo in Portuguese: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Romanian: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Russian: Гинкго
ginkgo in Simple English: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Serbian: Гинко
ginkgo in Swedish: Ginkgo
ginkgo in Thai: แปะก๊วย
ginkgo in Turkish: Mabet ağacı
ginkgo in Chinese: 银杏
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