Montreal In The Fall 14

Gingkos are one of the world’s oldest trees. Their beauty is unsurpassed and the lovely fan-shape of their leaves has been an inspiration in Chinese Art, for millennia. Even the slightest breeze will help these beautiful leaves begin their dance.

When visiting Montreal Botanical Garden’s famed Arboretum in Fall, you will see the lovely clear yellow of the Gingkos, as you complete your walk.

Station 6: Ginkgos

Coming upon these beautiful trees, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back into ancient China. The Arboretum has a splendid collection of ginkgos, with their shiny golden foliage.

The Ginkgo biloba is a real living fossil, a primal tree which co-existed with the dinosaurs 150 million years ago. It outlived their extinction and survived the ice ages (sheltering in a natural refuge in the mountains of eastern China).

Today it is the only surviving member of the Ginkgoaceae family, with lacy leafed branches and a healing treasure within, used by naturopathic physicians as medicine which creates better blood-flow, thereby aiding memory.

The name “Ginkgo” is derived from the Japanese word ginkyo, meaning “silver apricot”, referring to the fruit, which is eaten in Japan as gingko “nuts” in dishes such as the classic custard Chawan Mushi. The nuts have a mild, pleasant flavor, reminiscent of pistachios or chestnuts. Both chestnuts and gingko nuts are also roasted.

In China the odoriferous fruit is harvested and removed. After the nuts are removed from their smelly hulls, the resulting nut food is considered a delicacy. The tree is often regarded as being sacred, being regularly planted around Asian temples.

For Europeans, a botanist named Kaempfer first observed it in Japan and introduced it to the West in 1690, where it is also known as the maidenhair tree. In maturity, their trunks can be 3 feet thick.

Today ginkgos are very popular, ornamental trees all around the world, and if they are in an optimal space, they can grow to be 80 feet tall and 60 feet wide. However, most gardens have very diminutive size specimens, confined by their allowable space. They are highly resistant to pollution, insect pests and diseases, so Gingko biloba is an ideal tree for city settings.

Some people want to avoid planting female specimens, though, for it is their fruit which gives off a very unpleasant odor after it drops, but I was walking along streets in parts of Berkeley, California where they were planted, and I did not find the fruit offensive. Maybe they were not yet completely”mature”.

You might see that even the hungriest squirrels avoid the fruit of the only female tree at the Arboretum. All the other ginkgos in the collection are males, although the sex of three of the trees is as yet unknown, as it may require 20 years to determine gender.

This is the last section of the Arboretum Fall Foliage Walk. Be sure to get a map online, as there are NO paths in the Arboretum. Don’t get lost! The staff at the Montreal Botanical Gardens’ Tree House can also help you with maps and information.


Larches: Larch Walk Montreal Botanical Garden

Maples: Maple Walk – Montreal Arboretum

Oaks: Montreal Oak Leaf Walk

Mountain Ash: Mountain Ash Montreal

Walnuts: Walnut Species in Montreal

Montreal Botanical Garden – get a map online, too.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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