Tuesday, May 11, 2010

female gingko


So last quarter when discussing gymnosperms we talked about how there's biodiversity within the gymnosperms, specifically the variation between conifers (pinophyta), cycads (cycadophyta), gnetophytas, and gingkophytas. Interestingly, the gingkophyta is responsible for the gingko biloba, and it is the only species in its class etc. Essentially, it is its only living ancestor. Gingkos are really interesting because they can withstand a lot of trauma and live a really long time. However, another really interesting thing is that you have probably only seen male gingko trees. This is because the female gingko tree stinks hardcore. The fruit it produces smells like rancid butter, and because of this stench, a lot of people don't plant it. However, I was able to go on a trip to check out some female gingkos on a college campus in Portland Oregon, and for your interest here's a picture of what they look like. Unfortunately, they actually don't look any different than the male. The only way you can tell is by looking at the flowers, which are either clusters of little anthers on the male stem, or in the female's case, a small cluster of 2-3 tiny ovaries on the stem. A funny fact about these gingkos (there were two in front of the college's library) is that in the fall the fruit would smell so terrible, that they had to change the library's entrance to the other side of the building so that students and professors could avoid them.

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