Short shoots

Not a brief photo session but a scientific term for the stubby little leaf bearing twigs that some conifers like Larch and Cedars have. It’s a clue to the antiquity and ancestry of Ginkgo, although deciduous and not needle bearing it’s a Gymnosperm along with that huge raft of evergreens like Yew, Juniper and all those boreal ‘Christmas tree’ types. Short shoots are the main leaf bearing twigs and they grow very, very slowly. Another very different twig type allows for extension growth, in the case of Ginkgo biloba these are rather random, unruly shoots that head off in all directions….a primitive character if there ever was one. Ginkgo is best know for two contrasting features; the most lovely maidenhair foliage that turns butter yellow in Autumn and outrageously stinky ‘fruits’ that sadly put some people off growing the tree, oh and there is a third less well known attribute, they produce motile sperms, that is ones that can actually swim their way to the female gamete. Sterile, quite tidy upright forms of Ginkgo have been selected that qualifies them as a good street ornamental, it’s good to see them, after all they’ve been  around for about 270 Million years.

Ginkgo short shoots

 

Ginkgo biloba against a backdrop of conifer foliage.
Ginkgo biloba against a backdrop of conifer foliage.