Ginkgo biloba “Autumn Gold” features brilliant fall color and scalloped leaves similar to those of maidenhair ferns. (Great Plant Picks)

Ginkgo biloba “Autumn Gold” features brilliant fall color and scalloped leaves similar to those of maidenhair ferns. (Great Plant Picks)

Great Plant Pick: Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ aka maidenhair tree

This tree features brilliant fall color and scalloped leaves similar to those of maidenhair ferns.

What: Ginkgo biloba is one of the most beautiful deciduous trees — and “Autumn Gold” is a superior selection of this species. This tree evolved more than 200 million years ago. Talk about a great track record! It is tough enough to live in the harshest environments, even as street trees in crowded cities. Some ginkgo trees are male and some are female. Since the females produce seeds with the odor of rancid butter, male clones are preferable for ornamental use. Brilliant fall color is one of the many attributes of this tree. The shape of a ginkgo leaf, with its scalloped outer margin, is similar to those of maidenhair ferns, hence the common name of maidenhair tree. Although sometimes referred to as conifers, ginkgos have in fact followed their own, separate, evolutionary course.

Where: Ginkgoes grow best in a location with rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate a wide range of soil types including sandy and clay sites.

Size: “Autumn Gold” will grow to be 60 feet tall with a 30-foot-wide canopy when mature.

Care: These trees are drought tolerant once established, although occasional or regular watering provides an extra boost. They are also tolerant of urban situations, pollution and salt spray. Very little pruning is needed to maintain the form of these trees, other than removing dead and broken branches or poorly formed limbs.

— Richie Steffen,

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