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Stinko Ginkgo in San Francisco

Yellow fruit of ancient ginkgo trees: aromatic or stinky – you are to decide

Stinko Ginkgo
Stinko Ginkgo

Strolling in the streets of San Francisco between October and December may occasionally be unbearable for your nose if you happen to come across a female ginkgo tree. It is not accidentally named “stinko gingko” – its female trees yield yellow plum-like fruits that eventually drop on the ground and actually stink. However, some people who crave for unusual feelings may even like such an experience. In fact, female trees are not numerous in San Francisco, since city’s authorities encourage to plant only male ginkgos. This tree has survived for millions of years and is called a "living fossil". Paradoxically, nowadays, these ancient trees grow in the most modern surroundings. It is appreciated thanks to its fan-shaped​ leaves which are presupposed to improve memory skills and thin blood. The foliage resembles that of a maidenhair fern. Hence comes its another name – “maidenhair tree”.

Practical info

When do San Francisco's female ginkgo trees bear fruit?

San Francisco's female ginkgo trees bear yellow fruits resembling small plums from October to December, and they have a pungent smell. Though their smell is not pleasant for everyone, some people find it unique. Male ginkgo trees are preferred over females, and they are planted more commonly. Show more

Where can people find the most prominent ginkgo trees in San Francisco?

Golden Gate Park is home to the most prominent ginkgo trees in San Francisco. The area around the De Young Museum features the biggest specimens. Visitors can also see Ginkgo trees on streets, parks, and notable locations like See's Candies and Civic Center Plaza. Show more

How can people distinguish between male and female ginkgo trees in San Francisco?

Ginkgo trees can be male or female, and female trees produce the fruit with a pungent odor. The easiest time to identify the sexes is during spring when their leaves begin to grow. The female Ginkgo trees have more narrow leaves than the males. A discernible difference is visible in their foliage. Show more

Do ginkgo trees have health benefits aside from improving memory and thinning blood, and what are they?

Ginkgo trees in San Francisco have been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. In addition to improving blood flow, memory, and thinning blood, Ginkgo leaves contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. They can have mental health benefits like reducing the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer's disease. In San Francisco, Ginkgo leaf extracts are commonly sold in health stores and pharmacies. Show more

What should people do if they cannot tolerate the smell of the fruit of the stinko ginkgo trees in San Francisco?

If the pungent smell of the fruit from female Ginkgo trees is not for you, there are some precautions you can take. Avoid areas with a lot of fallen fruits in the fall season. Visitors could use a mask or fragrant scarf to mask the smell. Most of the fallen fruits are usually cleared up by late December. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin