Ginkgo biloba avenue at Bute Park

Ginkgo biloba 0

Ginkgo biloba
mid November 2015

Ginkgo biloba 1

Ginkgo biloba
early July 2017

Ginkgo biloba 2

Ginkgo biloba
mid November 2018

Grid reference ST 17995 76737
Common name Maidenhair tree
Origin China
Deciduous Yes

This avenue runs northwards from the castle to what was the Castle Mews, now the Anthony Hopkins Centre of the Roral Welsh College of Music and Drama. It is thought to have been planted in the early 1950s. In August 2016 a few of the trees were bearing small quantities of fruit. In 2018 seven trees were observed to have produced abundant fruit.

General tree description

Ginkgo biloba is a medium-sized to large tree, growing up to around 28 metres, with a conical shape when young, which later becomes irregular. Its bark is grey-brown with a craggy texture. The leaves are on long stalks, fan-shaped, roughly 9cm long and 7cm broad, and dull green, turning bright yellow in autumn. The common name - Maidenhair tree - refers to the resemblance of the fan-shaped leaves to the Maidenhair fern. Ginkgo bilobas may be male or female. When fully mature (around 80 years old), the male tree has yellow catkins 2 to 4cm long. Females when mature have inconspicuous green flowers and after fertilisation develop yellow plum-like fruits in autumn. These have a very unpleasant odour and can cause skin irritation.

The Ginkgo biloba is said to be a "living fossil", meaning that it has similar characteristics to fossils from the Jurassic period, 150 to 200 million years ago, also the age of the dinosaurs. At that time the Gingko grew in many parts of the world including Europe and America. It is now native only in China.