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Publication #ENH432

Ginkgo biloba: Maidenhair Tree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Ginkgo is practically pest-free, resistant to storm damage, and casts light to moderate shade. Young trees are often very open but they fill in to form a denser canopy. It makes a durable street tree where there is enough overhead space to accommodate the large size. The shape is often irregular with a large branch or two seemingly forming its own tree on the trunk. But this does not detract from its usefulness as a city tree unless the tree will be growing in a restricted overhead space. If this is the case, select from the narrow upright cultivars such as `Princeton Sentry' and `Fairmont'. Ginkgo tolerates most soil, including compacted, and alkaline, and grows slowly to 75 feet or more tall. The tree is easily transplanted and has a vivid yellow fall color which is second to none in brilliance, even in the south. However, leaves fall quickly and the fall color show is short.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Ginkgo biloba: Maidenhair Tree


Ed Gilman

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General Information

Scientific name: Ginkgo biloba
Pronunciation: GINK-go bye-LOE-buh
Common name(s): Maidenhair Tree, Ginkgo
Family: Ginkgoaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 3A through 8A (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: sidewalk cutout (tree pit); street without sidewalk; specimen; urban tolerant; Bonsai; highway median; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 


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Height: 50 to 75 feet
Spread: 50 to 60 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: round, pyramidal
Crown density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: lobed
Leaf shape: fan-shaped
Leaf venation: parallel, palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. 


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Flower color: green
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, round
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: yellow, green
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown, gray
Current year twig thickness: medium, thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained; occasionally wet
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: tolerant
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Female plants are wider-spreading than the males. Only male plants should be used as the female produces foul smelling fruit in late autumn. The only way to select a male plant is to purchase a named cultivar including `Autumn Gold', ` Fastigiata', `Princeton Sentry', and `Lakeview' because there is no reliable way to select a male plant from a seedling until it fruits. It could take as long as 20 years or more for Ginkgo to fruit.

Ginkgo may grow extremely slow for several years after planting, but will then pick up and grow at a moderate rate, particularly if it receives an adequate supply of water and some fertilizer. But do not overwater or plant in a poorly-drained area. Be sure to keep turf several feet away from the trunk to help trees become established. Very tolerant of urban soils and pollution, Ginkgo could be used more in USDA hardiness zone 7 but is not recommended in central and southern Texas or Oklahoma due to summer heat. Adapted for use as a street tree, even in confined soil spaces. Some early pruning to form one central leader is essential.

There are several cultivars: `Autumn Gold' - male, fruitless, bright gold fall color and rapid growth rate; `Fairmont' - male, fruitless, upright, oval to pyramidal form; `Fastigiata' - male, fruitless, upright growth; `Laciniata' - leaf margins deeply divided; `Lakeview' - male, fruitless, compact broad conical form; `Mayfield' - male, upright fastigiate (columnar) growth; `Pendula' - pendent branches; `Princeton Sentry' - male, fruitless, fastigiate, narrow conical crown for restricted overhead spaces, popular, 65 feet tall, available in some nurseries; `Santa Cruz' - umbrella-shaped, `Variegata' - variegated leaves.

Propagation is by seed or grafting males.

Pests and Diseases

This tree is pest-free and considered resistant to gypsy moth.



This document is ENH432, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.