Seoul Metropolitan Government will be removing 33 female ginkgo trees from high-traffic areas in the downtown area in order to lessen the, ahem, smell pollution:
And the official fight against it kicked off in Seoul during the final week of November. The Seoul Metropolitan Government removed 33 female ginkgo trees – which produce seeds – from areas in the city’s downtown where human traffic is high.
The trees were transplanted to city-run facilities in and near Seoul.
“We chose trees that block people’s passage the most,” Kim Won-sik from the Green Seoul Bureau’s landscape division told the Korea JoongAng Daily.
The city hopes to expand the program by removing female trees and replacing them with male trees—which, ironically, don’t have stinky nuts—in other neighborhoods of Seoul.
I’m a big fan of the ginkgo tree, and don’t really mind the odor. Let’s you know it’s autumn, after all. This autumn, in fact, I learned a couple of (IMHO) interesting things about the noble ginkgo tree:
1) The ginkgo is a living fossil that been around even longer than “CSI”:
Previous fossils revealed that Ginkgo species have remained unchanged for the past 51 million years, and that similar trees were alive and well 170 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. But what happened between the two dates was unknown. The new finds, from the 121-million-year-old Yixian rock formation in northeast China, provide a much-needed missing link between ancient and more modern plants.
2) In the event of a nuclear war, only the cockroaches, ginkgo trees and possibly a few particularly noxious species of Boston sports fans will survive:
Extreme examples of the ginkgo’s tenacity may be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where six trees growing between 1–2 km from the 1945 atom bomb explosion were among the few living things in the area to survive the blast. Although almost all other plants (and animals) in the area were destroyed, the ginkgos, though charred, survived and were soon healthy again. The trees are alive to this day.
You can find pictures of the trees here.
3) Even though the name “ginkgo” is Japanese, the Japanese do not, in fact, call the trees “ginkgo.” Seems like something got lost in translation:
The older Chinese name for this plant is 銀果, meaning “silver fruit”, pronounced yínguǒ in Mandarin or Ngan-gwo in Cantonese. The most usual names today are 白果 (bái guǒ), meaning “white fruit”, and 銀杏 (yínxìng), meaning “silver apricot”. The former name was borrowed directly in Vietnamese as bạch quả. The latter name was borrowed in Japanese ぎんなん (ginnan) and Korean 은행 (eunhaeng), when the tree itself was introduced from China.
The scientific name Ginkgo is the result of a spelling error that occurred three centuries ago. Kanji typically have multiple pronunciations in Japanese, and the characters 銀杏 used for ginnan can also be pronounced ginkyō. Engelbert Kaempfer, the first Westerner to investigate the species in 1690, wrote down this pronunciation in his notes he later used for the Amoenitates Exoticae (1712) with the “awkward” spelling “ginkgo”. This appears to be a simple error of Kaempfer, taking his spelling of other Japanese words containing the syllable “kyō” into account, a more precise romanization following his writing habits would have been “ginkio” or “ginkjo”. Linné, who relied on Kaempfer when dealing with Japanese plants adopted the spelling given in Kaempfer’s “Flora Japonica” (Amoenitates Exoticae, p. 811).