Species come, and species go. This has been the way of life for millions of years, but it seems the world wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to a species of tree. Thanks to hard work and dedication, humans have saved the living fossil ginkgo trees from the edge.
Ginkgo trees are incredibly old
Believe it or not, but it turns out that ginkgo trees are actually 60 million years old – and that’s just their current form. Ancestors of the tree could have existed up to 170 million years ago as seeds suggest they were a part of the Jurassic Period. Although they have stood the test of time all these years, it wasn’t long before people thought they had completely gone from the wild. It wasn’t until people found a few trees in the wilderness that researchers knew ginkgo trees had somehow survived against all the odds.
The last of their kind
The world was once filled with a variety of ginkgo trees. Sadly, there is now just one species. That’s how they earned their reputation for being a living fossil; like many other things, they have been whittled down until there was only one type left. One of the many reasons experts think ginkgo trees nearly went extinct is because they let off a distinct smell that’s not overly pleasant to be around.
Different from the rest
Ginkgo trees are some of the most fascinating plants as they have different male and female trees. Most plants can be pollinated and reproduce their own seeds, but these seem to rely on one another. Not a lot is known about ginkgo trees and how they work, as some evidence suggests that male trees will grow female branches if the tree is worried it won’t reproduce.
Evolving to survive
Remember the smell we mentioned? It can be a lot to take in when people aren’t used to the stench, but it seems it wasn’t always there to keep people away. Several experts have theorized ginkgo trees used this smell to deter predators. After all, most things with noses want to stay far away from the plant. While the ginkgo tree was busy adapting in certain ways, it’s thought the species lost the battle when flowering plants multiplied and took over the space – leaving little room for the trees.
Bringing ginkgo trees back
It was once thought that ginkgo trees were gone for good. That was until someone found a special forest in China that was filled with the species. It’s believed monks cultivated them for many years. Now, the living fossil trees have been brought back from the edge as they line the streets of cities like Washington, D.C. and Manhattan. The changing color of their leaves really is a sight to behold.
Just because things didn’t look good for these trees didn’t mean they’d given up the fight. In fact, all they needed was a little help from some humans, and the living fossil ginkgo trees have been brought back from the edge.