Generalities Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba is a tree originating in China, completely rustic and with an upright habit. The development of the plant can take place in height (up to a maximum of 40 meters) and in width (up to 8 meters in diameter); sometimes we are faced with narrow and tall trees, others with more voluminous and expanded ones. Ginkgo Biloba is characterized by the shape of its leaves (green in spring and in summer, yellow in autumn, before falling) that resemble small fans; these grow or alternately along the branch or gathered in clusters. The flowers of the ginko appear in summer, they can be male (in pendulous inflorescences) or female (small, round and solitary) in both cases of yellow color. The green-yellow fruits also grow on the female plants.
The plant prefers rather warm climates and full sun positions. Like all completely rustic plants, it can still withstand even very cold temperatures, up to 15 ° C below zero. Ginko is cultivated in almost all of Italy and in the rest of the world, for ornamental purposes. The diffusion of the plant is due in any case to man as no spontaneous cultivation of recognized ginko has been found.
The ideal soil of the ginko must be very fertile, moist and well drained with a significant depth and with a good presence of humus. Thanks to the presence of humus, that is to say organic decomposing material, the soil is able to retain water and therefore remain moist. If the soil of your home garden is not particularly suitable for the cultivation of ginko, it is possible to add pre-packaged organic matter to ensure optimum plant development.
The propagation of the plant takes place by sowing or through semi-woody cuttings, taken during the summer period. In most cases, germination has good results. Once this is done, it will be possible to move the shoots into individual containers and shelter them in areas rather in shade. For the entire duration of their first growing season they must remain in greenhouses, with temperatures that are not too high. Later, during the spring, it will be possible to plant the seedlings but always in a sheltered area and not too subject to climate change.
It is made by picking up, from the middle of summer onwards, semi-woody segments at least 10 cm long. Choose them carefully (there is a lot of dimorphism) since, according to their conformation, we will be able, in the future, to give a particular bearing to the specimen.
We insert the branch into a light compote, but still able to stay fresh. The ideal is to mix the same amount of soil and sand. We cover with a transparent plastic cap and place the jar in an area of luminous shadow, until it has rooted. It is important never to let the substratum dry out completely. Generally there is already a good development from the following vintage and the final planting can be carried out starting from the second year.
Fundamental to having the production of the fruits it is necessary to plant male and female trees in proximity of each other, so that fertilization can take place. Pruning is not recommended, unless strictly necessary, as a plant may dry out.
As for irrigation, it is not particularly necessary. Rainwater in temperate climates can suffice. During the most sultry summers, increase irrigation. This should also be taken into consideration for species grown in pots.
It is a resistant tree that is practically autonomous after the first few years of release.
Initially, in fact, especially if you live in the southern regions or if the soil is sandy, it is good to follow the specimen with regular irrigations, at least during the warm season. To disperse the interventions it is always useful to mulch the soil with straw, leaves or other suitable material; it is also helpful in the North to safely overcome the first winters.
To keep the substratum rich and to stimulate growth, it is advisable to spread, in autumn, in the area covered by the foliage, mature flour manure.
Ginkgo Biloba produces fruits in abundance that ripen especially if the climate is particularly hot; they must be collected in the autumn.
This variety of plants can be attacked by aphids and, in the hottest periods, by fungal diseases.
Variety of Gingo biloba
The type species is a truly imposing tree that can be inserted only in gardens or medium-large parks. The great beauty and reliability of this vegetable lead him to be requested by a very diverse audience of amateurs. Today we can fortunately find more or less bulky cultivars: some can even be grown in pots on a balcony. There is also a lot of choice regarding the habit (open, columnar, pyramidal, expanded, ground cover) and the color of the leaves (bright green, variegated in silver or gold, bright yellow).
In the nursery sector the cultivars are almost always produced by grafting: it is a method that allows to obtain an adult plant faster and guarantees the maintenance of the peculiar characteristics.
Here are some of the most common varieties:
Ginkgo biloba species: it can reach considerable dimensions and is used as an isolated specimen, in thickets or for hedges. The leaves in autumn become a beautiful golden yellow. There are male and female specimens, although the former are almost always preferable. The fruits (present only in the females) in autumn emit an unpleasant smell as well as soil the underlying soil.
Autumn Gold, up to 12 meters high and about 3 meters wide, it is a beautiful conical tree. Very attractive for the beautiful coloring of the leaves in the autumn season
Latifolia similar to the species, but has leaves that are wider than long, very decorative
Fairmont has rapid growth and erect and almost columnar growth habit. It has broad leaves.
Ephiphylla female variety that produces fruits at the ends of the leaves.
fastigiata it has branches that point upwards. The trunk is free in the lower part and the crown is pyramidal in shape
horizontalis the branches develop horizontally. Usually it is around 2 m in height for as many in width
longifolia it has long leaves with lobes separated by a very deep incision
Lakewiew compact and conical plant with large leaves. Suitable for small gardens
Pendula it has branches with decombant growth
Tit dwarf form (maximum 5 meters high) and of a very compact and dense bushy shape
Tubifolia decombent branches and leaves rolled up on themselves
Variegata with cream-white striped leaves
Beijing gold large leaves variegated in cream and gold. About 4 m x 4
Trolls and Trolly very dwarf shapes, up to 1-1.5 meters high and wide. Yellow autumn leaves. Suitable for vase.
The leaves of Ginkgo Biloba have been used in herbal medicine since the dawn of time, especially in the East.
Science has considered this plant and demonstrated its effectiveness, especially in some areas.
First of all it can be a valid aid for the circulatory system, in particular to improve the functioning of the capillaries, thanks to the large amount of flavonoids contained in its extracts. These improve blood viscosity and interfere with the excessive coagulation that occurs in case of allergies or inflammation. It also acts in the eventuality of damage to the retina favoring microcirculation and therefore healing.
In the brain it works by improving glucose metabolism and inhibiting the development of cerebral edema.
The large amount of flavonoids also make it valuable for inactivating free radicals, thus performing an antioxidant, revitalizing and anti-aging function.
The extract of ginkgo biloba was already used in traditional medicine, but only since the 70s are products capable of maintaining all its numerous properties intact, as well as ensuring a constant effect.
Previously, in fact, both manual collection and air drying did not allow to obtain high quality standards.
The dedicated cultivation plant, the mechanical harvesting and the selection of cultivars and the best leaves today allow a perfect qualitative and quantitative reproducibility of the active ingredients. These are extracted under vacuum in a mixture of water and organic solvent, which will then be eliminated together with other undesirable substances. The extract is then concentrated and used for the preparation of capsules, powders or liquid formulations.
However, it is also possible to find dried leaves in herbal medicine, suitable for preparing excellent herbal teas.
Ginko - Ginkgo biloba: The fruits
The fruit pulp is not edible and may even be toxic and irritating to the skin. Instead, almond-like seeds that can be found inside the stone can be used. They are frequently used in Japan to accompany sake or some traditional dishes.