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Ginkgo, Maidenhair Tree



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published October 2018, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: Deciduous broadleaf

Height: 80 feet

Spread: 40 feet

Shape: Spreading, a lot of variation in the species

Ginkgo is a large shade tree that is tolerant of adverse growing conditions and has a bright yellow fall foliage color. One should only plant male trees since female trees bear fruit that smell like vomit.

Plant Needs

Zone: 4 to 9

Moisture: Wet, moist, or dry

pH Range: 3.7 to 8.0

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay


Suggested uses for this plant include shade, street tree, and specimen plant.

Planting Notes

Transplants readily, and is easy to establish.

Buy only grafted, male (non-fruiting) cultivars because the fruit of female trees has an obnoxious odor. Prefers sandy, deep, moist soil but is very adaptable to wide range of soil types and pH. Tolerates city conditions (air pollution and road salt).


Easy to grow and maintain because of its adaptability and resistance to insects and pests. Prune in the spring.


No serious problems.


Consult local garden centers, historic or public gardens and arboreta regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.

Cultivars of Ginkgo biloba:

  • `Autumn Gold' is a male cultivar with good fall color.
  • `Fastigiata' and Princeton Sentry® are columnar male forms.


Ginkgo is a deciduous gymnosperm and geological evidence dates the age of this species to 150 million years. The fall color (bright butter yellow) of this species is truly magnificent but can be brief if there is a hard frost in which case most of the leaves will drop.

This tree readily adapts to city conditions. Ginkgo is suited for bonsai.

This material was developed by Carol Ness as part of the Interactive Design and Development Project funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

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Publication Date

March 7, 2024