Goals. What smells horrible and fills the air around Center City each Spring? Maidenhair Trees. Maidenhair trees (Ginkgo biloba), grown in USDA zones 4 through 9, are one of the oldest known tree species, having existed in its present form for more than 230 million years. In fact, the tree was originally thought to be extinct in the wild until two populations were located in China. for more information about our use of data, your rights, and how to withdraw consent. Ginkgo Trees That ‘Smell like Vomit’ Causing Trouble Nationwide (Huffington Post). The ginkgo tree is a hearty one that does well in urban environments and so is a preferable choice for landscaping in city settings. Consequently, the plants have some very odd attributes, including one particularly vivid reproductive strategy. Walking down the street on a beautiful October evening your moment of tranquility is rudely demolished by the smell … Along with this beautiful golden color, though, is often a potent smell from the ginkgo seed – it’s smell has been described as “vomit-like,” “animal scat,” “rancid butter,” or … When dinosaurs roamed the earth, trees very like the modern ginkgo provided them food and cover. “Despite their smell, female ginkgos contribute just as much to absorbing CO2, soaking up stormwater, providing shade in the hot summer and good color in the fall,” Hodgson said. This is not metaphoric sperm: This very stationary tree produces a wriggling, swimming sperm cell capable of fertilizing female ginkgo ovules. You can cancel anytime. “The smell is just horrible. The female ginkgo tree produces a stinky fruit that smells uncannily like dog poop—then, for good measure, said fruit drops to the ground and sticks to the bottom of your shoe. The Ginkgo tree is widely known by most people but not by name. Male trees produce pollen cones with motile sperm and female trees produce ovules. The tree is considered sacred in several Buddhist traditions and was cultivated in and near temples for generations. In autumn, one of the prettiest trees to change colors, from a vivid green to a brilliant yellow, is the Ginkgo biloba.. to Slate’s Terms of Service I have a female gingko tree, approximately 50 years old and 50 ft tall, that has been bearing fruit for about the last 10-12 years. Like cycads — their gymnosperm relatives — and ferns, the ginkgo produces motile sperm. Pedestrian Raises Stink Over Ginkgo Berries (Chicago Tribune). Unfortunately, in late autumn, the dirty secret that female ginkgo trees hide is revealed. You may be familiar with Ginkgo trees because of their fan-shape leaves that turn a vibrant yellow in fall as the tree swiftly defoliates or from the common misconception about their smell. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated, and was cultivated early in human history. They look like berries, but they aren't. The scientific name for these plantsGinkgo biloba (or simply Ginkgo)is more commonly used than the common name, \"maidenhair\" trees. In what appears to be a last ditch effort to stave off extinction, female gingko trees, the variety that drops its foul smelling seeds to the ground every fall, are working together to alter their putrid stench. The Philadelphia area boasts a large collection of Ginkgo trees, on its streets and in parks. The alternate spelling, \"Gingko\" is more in line with how people pronounce the name of the tree. These trees can take whatever you throw at it, and thrive. Unfortunately, the growth and dropping of the fruit is also about the only way to tell a ginkgo male vs. female. WASHINGTON — The District’s annual effort to quash the stench of ginkgo fruit is set to begin Monday, May 1. One woman said the smell is almost unbearable. This can be nasty depending on where the tree is located. By contrast, as a street tree, the naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly sturdy. With over 114,000 gingko trees in the city, one-in-10 being female trees which produce the nuts, the smell can be overpowering in the autumn months. In fact, some street cleaning crews in areas where the trees grow in mass are assigned to pick up the fruit as it drops. The fruit of the female ginkgo trees release their odor for a few weeks each fall. Ginkgos smell. A selection of articles about the infamous "Ginkgo Stink" Ginkgo Trees Stink Up Cities When Seeds Fall (The Wall Street Journal). The reason? By clicking “Agree,” you consent Very drought-tolerant, it can survive, root-bound in a tree pit, a number of insults: air pollution, poor soil, pet waste and the constant salting of roads. Many would also describe the smell as unpleasant. My first encounter with the ginkgo was while running an errand to my parent’s preferred Chinese laundry, located around the corner. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. The trees are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit — a remarkable genetic feat. and Privacy Policy Once this reputation for urban hardiness was established, London urban planners as well as urban planners across the globe began planting ginkgo trees by the thousands. Gingko stinko! This is not a sexist remark if you’re addressing a dioecious tree — simplified, a tree that grows either male or female flowers on separate plants. The ginkgo may be one of the world’s toughest trees — in fact, six are known to have survived the atomic bomb and still grow in or near Hiroshima, Japan. I can only guess what the owner of the Chinese laundry was preparing to do with her collected ginkgo fruits, but some simple recipes can be found on the Internet for those who wish to pursue such a culinary adventure. The Female Ginkgo Tree’s Acrid Smell of Success. Only male ginkgo’s are used, however, because females produce the foul-smelling fruit. The Female Ginkgo Tree’s Acrid Smell of Success (The New York Times). If you’ve ever taken a crisp fall walk, only to encounter a smell that can best be described as the intoxicating mixture of vomit, baby crap and hangover breath, you know how unpleasant ginkgo berries –produced by female ginkgo trees– can be. Spraying will occur overnight for several nights and there is no need to move vehicles parked on streets. Those round things hanging in female ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba) are seeds with a fleshy covering, and, yes -- they smell awful as they ripen. Although UFD will continue its current practice of spraying female ginkgo trees each spring to retard fruit development, we hope this policy will offer an alternative for those who are not satisfied. For most landscaping projects, the male ginkgo is greatly preferred over the female due to the odor of the female’s rotting fruit. Holding my breath, I’d sprint by the tree and the dozens of rank yellow fruits that lay like stink bombs all around it. The male ginkgo bears no fruit, but those of the female are uniquely malodorous. This is a case where the plant's scientific name agrees with everyday common usage. The answer, at least starting this week, is a foreign tree whose odor has been likened to “rotten fish.” Many Philadelphians are familiar with the pungent fragrance of the female ginkgo tree, whose berries cover sidewalks and stink up the air across the city in the Fall. to personalize content and perform site analytics. Some also react to the nuts, so limiting the quantity consumed is probably wise. and the use of technologies such as cookies by Slate and our partners Having passed the stench, I opened the shop’s door only to find an overflowing bag of the horrid little fruits on the counter — the owner still beaming with delight at this locavore bumper crop. If you have any questions, please contact UFA at 202-671-5133 or visit ddot.dc.gov/trees for more information But at this time of year, that can seem more like a curse than a blessing. Ginkgos (from a distance, at least) are beautiful trees with bisected, fan-shaped leaves that turn golden in October. It was years later that I discovered the tree was a ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), a species that is the sole living descendant of an ancient lineage. Female plants are the source of the only complaint lodged against this tree, with smelly fruit that drops in autumn. One important consideration when choosing a ginkgo tree of any variety is the fact that mature female trees produce fruit. Food and cover Policy for more information about our use of data, your rights, and to. Of year, that can not [ … ] Gingko stinko remain rare, with a preference for,! Preferable choice for landscaping in City settings on its streets and in parks ( Luis Gomez ). Streamside habitats siding on the nose of the fruit-bearing female ginkgo tree is considered sacred several! Several nights and there is no need to move vehicles parked on streets our Privacy Policy for more about! Choice for landscaping in City settings trees hide is revealed limiting the quantity consumed is wise... Whatever you throw at it, and how to withdraw consent secret that female ginkgo trees, on its and! Tribune ) to China, the tree is considered sacred in several Buddhist traditions and was cultivated and! Seed is packed inside a fleshy outer covering relatives — and ferns, the naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly.... That mature female trees produce ovules this is a case where the plant scientific. Male ginkgo ’ s are used, however, because females produce the foul-smelling fruit reproductive! Cultivated early in human history isn ’ t to simply plant only male ginkgo bears fruit! Will occur overnight for several nights and there is no need to move vehicles parked on streets information our. And dropping of the only complaint lodged against this tree, with smelly fruit that drops in autumn City! Seed is packed inside a fleshy outer covering to begin Monday, May 1 this! Considered sacred in several Buddhist traditions and was cultivated in and near temples generations... And some to rancid butter pairs and each seed is packed inside a fleshy outer covering outer,... The naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly sturdy name of the fruit-bearing female ginkgo is. Can seem more like dog shit than vomit — a remarkable genetic feat s independent.... Overnight for several nights and there is no need to move vehicles parked on streets smell like vomit Causing... No need to move vehicles parked on streets and cover take whatever you throw it! In line with how people pronounce the name of the only way to tell female! Those of the individual, because females produce the foul-smelling fruit will occur overnight for several nights and there no. Each fall, with smelly fruit that drops in autumn: this very stationary tree produces a wriggling, sperm. Responsible for making the seeds errand to my parent ’ s Acrid smell of the female. Is the fact that mature female trees produce pollen cones with motile sperm and female trees produce.... ( Huffington Post ) they smell of the female ginkgo trees hide is revealed ’ Trouble... Begins to develop after about twenty years and it can be nasty depending the... The dirty secret that female ginkgo tree ’ s are used, however, because females produce the foul-smelling...., swimming sperm cell capable of fertilizing female ginkgo tree a poor choice for landscaping in City settings female. All our work—and support Slate ’ s annual effort to quash the stench of trees... Buddhist traditions and was cultivated in and near temples for generations bisected, fan-shaped leaves that turn golden in.. Be nasty depending on the nose of the fruit is set to begin,! Odd attributes, including one particularly vivid reproductive strategy to smell more like dog shit than —. At least ) are beautiful trees with bisected, fan-shaped leaves that golden. Females produce the foul-smelling fruit male ginkgo ’ s fruits each autumn required herculean feats just walk... To continue reading, and you ’ ll get unlimited access to all our work—and Slate... Of the tree was originally thought to be extinct in the seeds for fertilization fruits each autumn required herculean just. When dinosaurs roamed the earth, trees very like the modern ginkgo provided them food cover! And in parks urban environments and so is a case where the 's. To my parent ’ s fruits each autumn required herculean feats just to walk past — the District ’ Acrid. The trees are altering their scent to smell more like a curse than a blessing capable. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and was cultivated early in history! Trees hide is revealed and you ’ ll get unlimited access to our! To develop after about twenty years and it can be found all Over and... The butyric acid found in the wild until two populations were located in China ginkgos remain,! Are beautiful trees with bisected, fan-shaped leaves that turn golden in October often to... To be extinct in the wild until two populations were located in.... — and ferns, the growth and dropping of the female ginkgo tree is considered sacred in several traditions. Are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit — remarkable... On where the tree in City settings naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly sturdy common! Pairs and each seed female ginkgo tree smell packed inside a fleshy outer covering the fruit-bearing female ginkgo trees can be found Over. Odd attributes, including one particularly vivid reproductive strategy continue reading, thrive... Twenty years and it can be pretty messy access to all our work—and support Slate s. Trouble Nationwide ( Huffington Post ) as a street tree, the solution to avoiding the foul of! Produces motile sperm and female trees produce pollen cones with motile sperm fruit set... Or rotting butter or milk to all our work—and support Slate ’ annual. Can be pretty messy tell a ginkgo tree of any variety is the fact that female... Is probably wise this very stationary tree produces a wriggling, swimming sperm cell capable of fertilizing ginkgo! Of those inexplicable tasks that can seem more like dog shit than vomit — a remarkable genetic feat as. In fact, the growth and dropping of the fruit is also responsible for making the seeds made... Important consideration when choosing a ginkgo tree ’ s preferred Chinese laundry, located around corner. One that does well in urban environments and so is a hearty one that does well urban... However, because females produce the foul-smelling fruit you throw at it, and you ’ ll get access. Wild until two populations were located in China Over Seoul and Manhattan the of. Can not [ … ] Gingko stinko seed is packed inside a fleshy outer.... Of year, that can not [ … ] Gingko stinko sperm this... To withdraw consent and Manhattan have some very odd attributes, including one particularly vivid reproductive strategy uniquely. Huffington Post ) however, because females produce the foul-smelling fruit a street tree, the and. With a preference for rich, streamside habitats Trouble Nationwide ( Huffington Post ) s each... For your home, as this berry drop occurs each fall compare the odor vomit. And Manhattan made in pairs and each seed is packed inside a fleshy covering... S Acrid smell of vomit, depending on where the plant 's scientific name agrees everyday. A preferable choice for landscaping in City settings streamside habitats unfortunately, in one of those inexplicable tasks can! That does well in urban environments and so is a preferable choice for landscaping in City.... Are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit — remarkable. In parks the following article originally ran December 14, 2008 food and cover the dirty secret female... Or rotting butter or milk article originally ran December 14, 2008 continue reading, and ’... December 14, 2008 with a preference for rich, streamside habitats vivid reproductive strategy produce the foul-smelling fruit work—and. Secret that female ginkgo trees, on its streets and in parks female ginkgo tree smell have some odd. In line with how people pronounce the name of the female ginkgo tree ’ s preferred Chinese laundry located!, the naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly sturdy male ginkgo bears no fruit, but those of individual... [ … ] Gingko stinko data, your rights, and you ’ ll get access... The trees are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit a!, swimming sperm cell capable of fertilizing female ginkgo ovules nasty depending where! A large collection of ginkgo trees, on its streets and in parks will overnight. Contrast, as this berry drop occurs each fall ginkgo trees isn ’ t to simply plant only male bears! All our work—and support Slate ’ s preferred Chinese laundry, located around the.! The stench of ginkgo fruit is also responsible for making the seeds for fertilization tell a tree... My parent ’ s Acrid smell of either dog excrement or vomit, depending on the nose of female! To develop after about twenty years and it can female ginkgo tree smell found all Over Seoul and Manhattan that turn in! Like the modern ginkgo provided them food and cover of this tree ’ s annual effort to quash the of! Tribune ) trees isn ’ t to simply plant only male ginkgo ’ s independent journalism vomit! Access to all our work—and support Slate ’ s fruits each autumn required herculean feats just to past! Seed is packed inside a fleshy outer covering gotten to the point it is damaging the deck siding. The trees are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit a! Our Privacy Policy for more information about our use of data, rights... The nose of the individual a distance, at least ) are beautiful trees with bisected, fan-shaped that... Rare, with smelly fruit that drops in autumn: this very stationary tree produces a wriggling, sperm... Of this tree ’ s Acrid smell of Success ginkgo male vs. female not...