Ginkgo Biloba (Biloba) is a member of the ginseng family. It grows wild in tropical regions of Asia, Africa and South America. Its leaves are long and slender with two leaflets per leaflet. The plant’s flowers have five petals each, which are white or pinkish red at maturity and develop into small pods containing up to 25 seeds when ripe.
The leaves of ginkgo biloba are used for flavoring tea, cooking and medicine. They are also used in traditional Chinese medicines for treating various diseases such as fever, cough, inflammation, headache and toothache.
In Japan it is called “kuro” meaning “beautiful”. In China it is known as “shui” meaning “harmony”, while in Korea it is known as “jeong” meaning “peace”.
It is one of the most popular plants in India and Pakistan where it is known as “gumu” meaning “sweet” or “milky”. It is also grown commercially in some countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.
Ginkgo biloba was first described scientifically by Linnaeus in 1753. The genus name comes from the Greek word gignon meaning “to bend”, referring to its shape. The species name “biloba” comes from the Latin word bi meaning “two” and the Latin word loba meaning “lobes”, referring to its two-lobed leaves.
Propagation: Ginkgo biloba trees are very long-lived, some of them being several thousand years old. In fact, ginkgo trees that lived hundreds of millions of years ago were related to ginkgo biloba trees. The trees grow very slowly, and reach a height of about 30-40 feet (9.1-12.2 m).
They have single or multiple trunks, and their bark is dark, narrow and diamond shaped. The crowns are large, but the branches are close together.
In spring they bear fan-shaped leaves distinctive for their resemblance to a maid servant’s skirt by its double rows of oblong lobes. The female trees have more leaves than the male trees. In autumn they turn a brilliant yellow or gold which is considered a spectacular sight in many parts of the world.
Ginkgo trees are dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female trees. The males are easily identified because they have small clusters of leaves near the base of the trunk, while the females have a more narrow appearance. The male catkins appear in early spring before the leaves and release pollen that can be seen by the female trees. The females produce fruit in the late spring and summer.
The fruit contains the seeds which are dark brown or black, and shaped like a baby’s bottom.
The ginkgo tree has been around for a very long time and has changed little over time. It grows to a height of 60 feet (18.3m). It is often found growing in urban areas because it can tolerate poor soil and air pollution.
Ginkgo Biloba (Biloba) is a unique species of tree distinguished by its fan-shaped leaves and pleasant odor. Native to China, the ginkgo tree is the only living species in its genus and the sole survivor of a group of plants that thrived 200 million years ago. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine.
The seeds can also be used, but they are not as effective as the leaves.
The leaves are the part of the plant that is used medicinally and are collected before they fall from the tree. They can either be eaten fresh or dried and made into tea.
Ginkgo has been used traditionally to treat a wide range of illnesses especially those of the circulatory system such as poor blood circulation, Raynaud’s syndrome, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, headache, lack of concentration and memory, etc. It has also been used to treat respiratory problems such as asthma, as well as mental conditions such as senility due to old age, and the debilities of old age in general.
In some parts of Eastern Europe, slices of ginkgo fruit are used to relieve pain caused by swelling of the gums. It is also used as an aphrodisiac.
Research indicates that it may have some value in treating Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, it has antioxidant properties that may help protect the skin from UV damage. It also may help to increase blood flow to the skin, which may enhance the effects of other products.
In Europe, ginkgo is used as a medicine for the relief of intermittent claudication (a condition that causes pain or numbness in the legs), as well as for tinnitus, dizziness, and poor concentration.
Ginkgo has been used extensively in China for many centuries as a treatment for a variety of conditions. It has only recently become popular in the U.S. as an antioxidant that may improve memory and relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginkgo is also marketed as a “memoria” agent, and can be found in combination with other herbs in memory-enhancing supplements.
Sources & references used in this article:
Is Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgoaceae) really an oviparous plant? by BF Holt, GW Rothwell – American journal of botany, 1997 – Wiley Online Library
Biology and chemistry of Ginkgo biloba by B Singh, P Kaur, RD Singh, PS Ahuja – Fitoterapia, 2008 – Elsevier
Rethinking Ginkgo biloba L.: Medicinal uses and conservation by T Isah – Pharmacognosy Reviews, 2015 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Ginkgo biloba L.: ginkgo by WD Shepperd – … Karrfalt, Robert P., eds. The Woody Plant Seed Manual …, 2008 – fs.usda.gov
Standardization of propagation and agro techniques in Ginkgo biloba L.-A medicinally important plant by RL Gopichand – Journal of Medicinal Plants, 2015 – plantsjournal.com
The Botany and Chemistry of Ginkgo biloba L. by H Huh, EJ Staba – Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, 1992 – Taylor & Francis