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Ginkgo Trees Were Going Extinct on Their Own; Then Humans Saved These ‘Living Fossils’ So They’re Now Everywhere


On the streets of many American city suburbs, there are living fossils that, unlike many stories of man’s interaction with nature, involve nature as destroyer and humanity as savior.

Jerry Wang |

Although some people take ginkgo leaf as a nootropic supplement, few people would imagine that it is the equivalent of eating a horseshoe crab, that is, it is an organism that, unlike all the other members of its family, came out of the previous era to mammals.

Ginkgo biloba he is alone in his family Ginkgoaceae; the last of its relatives probably disappears during the last ages of the dinosaurs. Understanding the tree’s inheritance suggests that it would have gone the way of the T-rex without a brush with Homo sapien.

The evidence for this comes down to the slow arms race observed in evolution. There are five types of seed-producing plants on Earth today. Flowering plants, conifers, cycads, and gnetals join the solitary ginkgo family, which scientists suggest may have contained many different species according to the fossil record, specifically in China.

About 130 million years ago, flowering plants really began to steal the show, developing sweet nectar in their flowers to attract pollinators and sweet fruit to attract animals to disperse seeds. On the other hand, the ginkgo relied on the wind to carry pollen from male to female trees.

It was hypothesized that it was an inconsistent strategy, like ginkgo sometimes they are observed to change sex, perhaps a failsafe mechanism to increase playability.

These respective evolutions likely pushed the ginkgo family to the back of the evolutionary bus. 66 million years ago, according to National Geographic, ginkgo disappeared from most of North America and Europe, and at the end of the last Ice Age, it clung only in China.

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It is theorized that it was the Paleolithic residents of China who, stripping the stinky outer shell of the ginkgo nut in search of a food source that resembled a pistachio, began to eat it and replant it to harvest the nuts.

Ginkgo is now one of the most common trees in cities along the east coast of the US after botanists brought it from China in the 17th century. Good for almost nothingAs well as offering an abundance of beautiful yellow leaves in fall, when they all change in no time, it is resistant to contamination and can thrive under concrete.

Peter Crane, author of the book Ginkgo and one of the world’s leading ginkgo experts, described human intervention as a “rescue from natural oblivion” and “a major evolutionary advance. [and cultural] history.”

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The IUCN still recognizes the tree as Endangered on the Red List, the world’s largest catalog of threatened species, largely due to a lack of ginkgo trees surviving in the wild in undomesticated forms.

However a 2012 study confirmed that there are surviving trees in southeast China that may represent the only truly wild population left.

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History shows that while humans are often blamed for sending plants and animals into oblivion, we also have a reputation for saving them.

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