Ginkgo • Maidenhair Tree • イチョウ • 銀杏 • ichō
[Updated 11/15/14 – added autumn picture]
We have 3 very mature ginkgo trees, lined along the E path: two in Area F and one past the second shortcut, in Area H. They are actually overgrown, for the scale of the Garden, but their size makes for a dramatic view from the N end of the Garden in fall, when their leaves turn flaming yellow.
From wikipedia: Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese and Japanese 銀杏, pinyin romanization: yín xìng, Hepburn romanization: ichō or ginnan), also spelled gingko and known as the Maidenhair Tree, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The tree is widely cultivated and introduced early in human history, and has various uses as a food and in traditional medicine. […]
Delightful write-up with pics and many links to ginkgo origins and other ginkgo pages from Imaginatorium (from Sano, Japan): “It’s a sunny day in Nagasaki, and it’s 1690. Do we know what ichou is? We certainly do! It’s a common enough tree, with at least one growing within the grounds of most (Buddhist) temples and (Shinto) shrines hereabouts. It’s a big tree, and it can live a long time, perhaps for thousands of years, they say. Do we know why it’s called ichou, or where it came from? Not quite so easy, but surely must have come from China. (Most things do.) Probably with Buddhism, or something. We usually write the name with the Chinese characters for silver (gin as in ginkou, bank), and apricot (kyou or an, as in anzu jamu or apricot jam, if that’s been invented yet). Hmm, that’s a bit confusing, but we do call the nuts gin-nan.
“Anyway, apparently this Dutch geezer, Engelbert Something, has just turned up in the port. […] Engelbert Kaempfer (rendered as kenperu in Japanese) was the first of the Three Great Plant-Watchers, and lived in Nagasaki from 1690 to 1692. […]