vrijdag 31 mei 2013
Eye to eye with a Ginkgo tree
The existence of the Chinese living fossil ginkgo tree was revealed to me by this excellent article on E360.yale. The ginkgo is a one of a kind tree that from fossil records appears to have survived unchanged for 100 million years. It has acquired a kind of botanical cult status with people hunting for wild specimens in the Middle Kingdom and Dutch teachers running fansites.
To my surprise the oldest Ginkgo ever planted in Europe is right here in Utrecht, in the Old Hortus. Established in 1723, the Hortus used to be the botanical garden of the university before it got decommissioned in 1987. With shame I must confess I never bothered to visit it but, Ginkgo power!, now I have. The puzzled look by the man working at the entrance gave me the impression that paying visitors are extremely rare, but the year-round pass he sold me for a tenner will certainly not go wasted.
As for the ginkgo: there actually were two of them, the oldest is 250 years old, the youngest 150. The brochure does not give exact dates.