"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Leaf of the Day: Ginkgo Biloba Leaves

I am clearing the perishables out of the fridge before we go away and I had almost forgotten these 3 little Ginkgo leaves. There are several small new ginkgo trees at Leu but only the one large tree I have found so far. The Ginkgo tree, along with the cycads is an ancient survivor from prehistoric times, a true living fossil.


That it survived at all, seems to be thanks to the Chinese monks who planted the trees in the monastery gardens for their beauty, religious and medicinal qualities. The earliest fossil record of the existence of the tree is a staggering 270 million years old, from the Permian era, a landscape companion to my much loved cycads.



There is so much to say about these wonderful trees and eventually I will write a longer post with some more substantial drawings but I am short of time this week. So if you are interested in Ginkgoes.. who could not be!..please visit the completely wonderful site The Ginkgo Pages here.

It has been put together by Cor Kwant from the Netherlands and is a labour of love. It is terrific, with excellent facts, anecdotes, history, images and everything you could wish for about Ginkgoes. It doesn't blink or beep or flash ads at you, (don't you just hate those sites that do) It is just packed with relevant and interesting information. As well as botanical and historical facts there is literature, art and even recipes.
Here is a lovely quote from the index page

"As the paleobotanist, Sir Albert Seward (1938) remarks: "It appeals to the historic soul: we see it as an emblem of changelessness, a heritage from worlds too remote for our human intelligence to grasp, a tree which has in its keeping the secrets of the immeasureable past."

If you don't love this ancient tree already, you will after reading about it, a tree that survived Hiroshima has to be special. There were quite a few trees that did surprisingly survive and there is a site dedicated to them here called "Survivors", its fascinating.

The leaves have a curious texture, they are quite leathery but with a silky feel and the ribbing is quite pronounced. The shapes vary considerably, even within each tree I have drawn 2 different cultivars, Green Pagoda, Mariken and the undivided leaf from the standard Ginkgo Biloba. I am looking forward to the autumn colour and some paintings.
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3 Ginkgo Leaves



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