Ginkgo trees are large, hardy and can live to 1000 years. When exposed to high temperatures the bark and leaves of the Ginkgo tree secrete a sap that is thought to have fire retardant properties. Amazingly, four Ginkgo trees were the only survivors of the atomic blast at Hiroshma in 1945 and they are still reported to be alive today.
Ginkgo’s have been widely grown in temple gardens in Asia and now as an ornamental in many cities of the world. The trees are very deep-rooted and are designed to withstand heavy snows and wind. In autumn the leaves turn a beautiful golden colour before falling to the ground.
Common Name: Ginkgo
Botanical Name: Ginkgo Biloba
Other names: Maidenhair tree
Growing Area: China
Nutrients & Applications:
Extract from Ginkgo leaves contains flavonoids unique to Ginkgo, that help protect the brain, nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina against free radical damage. Ginkgo leaf extract also contains two unique terpenoids, ginkgolides and bilobalide, which improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels, enhancing circulation,especially to the microcapillaries. These terpenoids can also reduce the stickiness of platelets.
Traditionally, Ginkgo leaf was used to treat blood disorders, circulatory function and improve memory. The leaves are used as bookmarks because they protect the pages from silverfish and booklice. Seeds are used to treat asthma and fever and, although toxic if not cooked thoroughly, the seeds are eaten in bird’s nest soup or roasted and sold in Asian markets as Ginkgo nuts.
Researchers are now exploring Ginkgo’s application in supporting normal memory functions in advanced age, maintaining healthy blood pressure and a healthy respiratory system.In Europe the leaf extract is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia by protecting nerve cells that are damaged. It is also used to treat vertigo. A unique aspect of Ginkgo’s antioxidant activity is its ability to protect against radiation damage. Ginkgo was used to help reduce radiation induced chromosome breakage in salvage personnel after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in an attempt to prevent the development of cancer.