The history of this particular Gingko tree runs 1400-years back. It has been able to capture the attention of the international tourists as an ancient masterpiece which is located in the Buddhist Temple in the Zhongnan Mountains (China). It grabs the attention due to the grand shedding of its leaves during the autumn season. The name of the tree is the Ginkgo Biloba and it’s also known as the maidenhair tree. The gingko tree is very unique among the other trees. This has a good stature and presentation as well as it’s a living fossil which has a history over 270 million years. This tree belongs to a genre of its own. This specific tree is the only one in the division of Ginkgophyta which survived since the dinosaurs roamed the earth and of the five groups from all the seed plants which dominate land environments (spermatophytes). Ginkgo biloba is the only tree that stands alone. All the other types of the plants have many different species. We can identify the angiosperms (flowering plants) which incorporate some 350,000 species as an example.

Even though there aren’t many Ginkgo trees found today, a lot have been planted worldwide for medical purposes. Dr. Willmar Schwabe group of pharmaceutical companies is one such organization which is engaged in securing a constant supply of high quality raw materials along with the French partner Beaufour – IPSEN. They established ginkgo plantations in the US, France and China for this special purpose.

The tree is primarily used to treat patients suffering from memory loss in dementia. This is an amazing fact for you to know about the old aged tree.

Recently a team of researchers, Richard Dixon at the University of North Texas in Denton, Jinxing Lin at the Beijing Forestry University and their colleagues found something very special about these Gingko trees. When compared with the younger ginkgo’s, the elder ones produce auxin, a plant hormone in less amounts. Auxin stimulates the natural growth and more of the hormone abscisic acid which is essential for the plants to respond to stress. However according to the observations it is said that the rate and the efficiency of photosynthesis is the same in both young and old trees. The old trees produce seeds that were just as viable too.

The genetic activities between both young and old are the same according to this team. The level of genes which are related to disease resistance, age related decline and the production of defensive compounds, such as antioxidants are the same in both young and old trees according to the investigations.

Do the studies of this ancient tree reveal its secrets of longevity for human beings to exploit for themselves? Sometimes, maybe. But it’s for sure that you should keep in your mind to pack a nose peg, if you feel drawn to gazing upon this antique tree directly. The bad smell of the seeds haven’t changed since the Jurassic years. I’m sure that this smell of vomit to dinosaur ‘seed dispensers’ won’t attract you very much.

This is the only surviving tree of an age old group of trees which are older than the dinosaurs.

Name in common: Maidenhair Tree

Photo credits: Yicai.com – H/T: Colossal