The Ginkgo Biloba tree (also called the Maidenhair tree) is a living relic that only survives in the wild in a small region of China. This unique tree that can grow to large proportions is now cultivated in many urban areas around the world as an ornamental and shade tree.
The Ginkgo has one of the most unique leaf shapes of all trees. This makes it very easy to identify if you ever come across one. There are also Ginkgo leaf fossils where you can easily make out this leaf shape.
I found this large Ginkgo tree in the "Fuente de Berro" park in Madrid, Spain. The lowest branches are so large that the tree is almost as wide as it is tall.
The new leaves grow out of short stems that grow along the length of the branches. It appears as though these stems grow longer year by year.
I came back to this tree in mid september and discovered that it was bearing ripe fruits. I had never seen these fruits before so I was quite excited to find a few hanging on the branch as well as a few laying on the ground among the fallen leaves. The fruits are round and about 3 cm in diameter.
I cut open one of the fruits that I found on the ground. Under the smooth skin was a layer of soft flesh similar in consistency to a apricot. Beneath this was a rather large seed (considering the size of the fruit). This seed was about 2 cm long and 1.5 cm wide.
The seed itself had a hard shell that encased a softer core. In the picture below you can see the whole fruit, half a fruit without the seed, the seed shell and the soft inner part of the seed.