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Ginkgo biloba 'Bryson City'

Common Name(s):
'Bryson City' Ginkgo, Ginkgo, Maiden hairtree
'Bryson City'

Ginkgo biloba is a deciduous conifer (a true gymnosperm) that can mature to a whopping 100' tall. A living fossil, it is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth over 150 million years ago. (Is it possible that the vile smell of the fruit attracted dinosaurs to consume and later discharge the berries, helping spread the seeds?) Is it also popular for use in bonsai and can be kept artificially small for centuries.

An upright, columnar, male selection of Ginkgo that has been a proven performer here in North Carolina, ‘Bryson City’ Ginkgo was brought from China and planted in 1941 by Mary Bryson Tipton. Mrs. Tipton, a missionary, was forced to leave when Japan invaded China. Bryson City was named after Mrs. Tipton’s family. The original tree grows in downtown Bryson City.

Ethnobotany:  The extract of the ginkgo leaves has been used pharmaceutically, but mainly used as a memory-enhancer and an anti-vertigo treatment. Gingko nuts are considered to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Seasons of Interest:

      Foliage: Fall, yellow

Wildlife Value:  Ginkgos have no wildlife value.  It is over-planted in today’s cities which decreases wildlife diversity in the urban environment. 

Insects, Diseases and Other Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. Can be allergenic; for those sensitive, it produces a skin dermatitis similar to poison ivy. This tree is deer-resistant.


50-100 ft.
Insignificant. Ginkgos are dioecious (separate male and female trees). Male plants produce small pollen cones with sporophylls. Female plants produce ovules at the end of a stalk. Fertilization occurs via motile sperm, as in cycads, ferns, mosses and algae. Fruit: Most of the ornamental ginkgoes in the United States are male as female trees produce a plum-like fruit about an inch in diameter that is attractive, but gives off a vile odor after falling to the ground
Easily grown in average, medium moisture soil in full sun. Prefers moist, sandy, well-drained soils. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, including both alkaline and acidic soils and compacted soils. These trees are also tolerant of saline conditions and heat. Usually deeply rooted, ginkgos are resistant to winds & heavy snow loads. Able to withstand the stresses of city life, it is an excellent selection for a variety of uses, including lawn tree, street tree, or shade tree. They are also effective in city parks or near commercial buildings and will tolerate deer, clay soil, and air pollution.
Columnar, tall, narrow
30-50 ft.
Growth Rate:
Ginkgos have distinctive two-lobed, somewhat leathery, fan-shaped, rich green leaves with diverging (almost parallel) veins. Leaves turn bright yellow gold in fall. Ginkgo trees are commonly called maidenhair trees in reference to the resemblance of their fan-shaped leaves to maidenhair fern leaflets (pinnae). Ginkgoes have the curious habit, in mid-fall, of dropping all of their leaves virtually at one time, usually following a heavy rainstorm. One autumn day, the bright foliage will be intact on the graceful spire-like tree; then, the next morning, the ground underneath the bare branches will be carpeted with its vivid leaves.
cpp, deciduous, fall color, bonsai, messy, interesting leaves

NCCES plant id: 3135