Flickr Recent Photos

ginkgo tits


Ginkgo protuberances


more protuberances


One of the great things about visiting Japan (for a tree geek like me) is being able to see some of the many old Ginkgo trees that are growing here. The Ginkgo, as some readers of this blog might recall, is a kind of living fossil, the last remaining species of a genus that was once widespread. Everything about the Ginkgo tree is strange. No one knows exactly when, or even if, they actually ever really went extinct in the wild and there is some evidence to prove that all the ones alive today are descendants of a few trees rescued in antiquity by early Buddhist monks. Ginkgo is one of the few trees that produces sperm that actually swims. And then there is this matter of the chichi or Gingko nipples, which form on older trees. Their function isn’t clear but it seems to be a kind of aerial root; an upside down version of the ‘knees’ one sees on the bald cypress trees (Taxodium) that grow in the swamp lands of the south-eastern United States. I photographed these wooden wonders that were dangling from a few of the Gingkos lining the approach to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Outside Asia there aren’t too many Ginkgos old enough to show this curious morphology. The term ‘nipples’ just doesn’t seem adequate to describe such girthy protuberances.

Comments are closed.