Usefulness and services of the tree :
Features and characters of the individual
Facts and stories
The maidenhair tree (ginkgo biloba) is often referred to as the ‘tree of 40 coins’, or even ‘tree of a thousand coins’, because its golden foliage in autumn meant that the tree used to fetch a high price in the 18th century. Another more obscure name, again referring to the tree’s golden colouring, is ‘the tree with the hair of Venus’ (referring to the Roman goddess of love and beauty).
A slightly more comic name is ‘duck foot’, which refers to the shape of the leaves.
The scientific name, ginkgo, has its roots in Japanese (‘gin kyo’, meaning ‘silver apricot’).
Did you know?
Maidenhair trees have existed since the time of the dinosaurs! It is the last living species in a formerly very diverse family of trees that existed more than 250 million years ago. Originating in Asia, this species is a true force of nature and seen as a symbol of longevity in its native continent.
In fact, the first tree to recover after the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion was a maidenhair tree!
The benefits of maidenhair trees
Maidenhair trees are the subject of close study and research in the field of medicine. Their leaves and fruit contain compounds that are believed to be very effective in treating age-related diseases.
These trees are also beneficial for their local climate, as they filter pollutants from the air very well – particularly greenhouse gases like CO2. Being highly resistant to air pollution, diseases and high temperatures, maidenhair trees represent hope for the future of our urban spaces. Their large foliage also creates a milder climate, boosting humidity and providing a shading, cooling effect. All of this means that they can play an essential role in combatting overheating cities.
How to recognise a maidenhair tree
Simple composition, fan-shaped, often with two lobes (bilobed); fall from the tree in autumn (deciduous)
Bright green in spring/summer; bright yellow in autumn; and no foliage in winter
Light greyish-brown, with a rough texture and deep furrows (grooves)
Specifics about this maidenhair tree
Standing next to two neighbouring lime trees, this maidenhair tree looks like it’s young and particularly small, but the size of its trunk indicates that it is older than it looks.
Compared to other maidenhairs of the same species, the tree looks a lot like a bonsai. This specimen has a weeping shape, with its branches arching downwards towards the ground, forming a pretty curtain of leaves between spring and autumn. This variety is usually found in botanical gardens or arboretum collections, not in the middle of a city. Its amusing silhouette and overall rarity are what make this tree remarkable.
(Texts and Photos by Priscille Cazin https://www.sylvolutions.eu)
This portrait is:
- Enriched with an illustration from the Belgian Federal State Collection on permanent loan to the Meise Botanical Garden.
- An initiative of Christos Doulkeridis, Mayor of Ixelles , Audrey Lhoest, portfolio holder for Environment, Green Spaces and Planting, and Tourism and the Ixelles Communal executive