Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ginkgo Trees For Garden and Health

It's time to plant trees!

The ginkgo tree is deemed biologically to be the oldest tree in the world. The genus dates back to 165 million years in China. Most of the trees, accustomed from the beginning to moderate climate were destroyed by the ice age, with surviving members left only in the Orient.

Individual ginkgo trees also compete for the title of oldest living specimens of life on earth. Surveys done in China have revealed that there are some ginkgo trees that are as much as 3,000 years old, with a total of about 180 trees exceeding 500 years of age. The largest grove of old ginkgos is in the Tian Mu Shan (Heaven's Eyes Mountain) Nature Reserve in Jiangsu Province.

The Chinese may have begun their medicinal use of the tree with the nuts, as the practice of finding medicine among foods is common there, but they soon added the leaves and even the roots to their list of valuable medicinal materials. The leaves were the plant part first put into practical use in the Western world, in Germany during the past decade.

According to the European research, which now includes over 300 published articles on the chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical applications of ginkgo, the leaves contain substances that promote blood circulation, alleviate allergy reactions, and have antioxidant properties.

Probably the most dramatic claim is that it helps improve circulation to the brain and alleviates memory problems that are characteristic of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.

The ginkgo tree is a good tree to grow because it's very resistant to disease, pests and pollution. Young ginkgo trees have a gangly, clumsy appearance, but as they grow, they become widespread with large, picturesque branches. The trees will grow 50 to 80 feet tall and spread between 30 to 40 feet. They're hardy in Zones 3 to 8.

As great as this tree is, there is a catch: the seeds, or nuts, produced by the female tree have a disagreeable odor when they begin decomposing and they will stain a sidewalk or patio. So if you buy a ginkgo tree, make sure you buy a male.

More info for ginkgo as herbal medicine.

More info on ginkgo trees in the garden.

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