We have a few plants of Ginkgo biloba on campus, all of which are fairly small and young compared with the historic specimen at Kew gardens. However that tree is small compared with the huge specimens that can be seen in the far east. Ginkgo biloba is a gymnosperm that has a long fossil history that suggests it was once very widespread. However it became reduced in its natural distribution to a small area of China where it stayed until horticulture spread it to surrounding Japan and Korea and later into Europe and the Americas. It is now widely used as a street tree.
There is a comprehensive new book on the species by one of our most eminent botanical alumni, Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS, who is now working at Yale. The book has its own Facebook site. To read more about the book see Yale University Press.
Ginkgo is one of the most distinctive, long lasting and fascinating of the gymnosperms. Peter Crane is a world renowned palaeobotanist but also lives in Oak Park, Chicago, just a few blocks away from Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, a man famous for his prairie style architecture and for popularising the Ginkgo as a street tree.