Gingko Biloba Leaf

by Emmet Nolan

Perhaps those of our greener fingered clients and members may have, down the years, recognised our group logo; the Gingko leaf. This has been our loyal emblem (under various graphical and public relation rebirths), and has stood the marketing test of time, much as the tree itself has. Its tree, the Gingko Biloba is a classic example of a living fossil (I know the feeling); the species itself has been around since well before the dinosaurs, with fossil records dating back to over 270 million years ago.

Surviving great ice ages before almost becoming extinct several times (indeed, it is the only surviving species from its genus, outliving all others since the end of the Pliocene). It further insured its continued existence when people found it useful over a thousand years ago (in China originally, of course), and has been used widely in food and medicine ever since. Indeed, it was again Chinese scientists who published the Gingko genome only earlier this year, which showed an ‘exceptionally large’ number of DNA base pairs, three times that of the human genome, including 42,000 predicted genes, which enable impressive antibacterial and chemical defence mechanisms. It’s been around the block, no doubt.

Now, indulge me a moment while I get all environmental and right-on.

Will this new Alt-Right movement that is sweeping the globe lead indirectly to a proliferation of Gingko trees? Perhaps. Again, bear with me. The Paris agreement, though now ratified by 117 parties out of 197, but now badly dented by Brexit and the recent US election (shudder), looks like there is a great deal of work to be done yet. This, combined with the imminent posting of a man who hates the US EPA being made Head of the US EPA, diesel emission scandals, climate change denial associated with the Alt-Right movement, world weather records broken with regularity and every scientific climate report bringing very bad news is almost enough to make you pull the duvet back up. Almost. In all likelihood, things may get worse before they get better…. which is where the Gingko comes in. It was noticed in the late 18th century that the Gingko trees in Kew Gardens in London were one of the few trees that proliferated in the extreme pollution of the Industrial Revolution, while native and non-native trees withered. Since then, it’s become a favourite of city planners the world over, and with the issues mentioned above could become even more widespread.

The Gingko could handle all the bad air we could throw at it, it seems. Sadly, it looks like we may find out the limit of its tolerance over the next couple of decades.

Oh well. Now, everyone admire this photo of an autumn Gingko in my folks back garden in Carlow.

Nothing wrong with that Ballymurphy air….