Categorized | Lifestyle, US

Ginkgo trees are coming down in many cities across the US

Ginkgo tree

Ginkgo tree

The ginkgo tree is well known for its tremendous hardiness and ability to survive almost any conditions, but it is also known for the fact that it stinks.

“It’s pretty disgusting,” said Jan Schneider, an office manager in Iowa City whose business has a ginkgo tree in front. Iowa City is one of many cities around the US that planted ginkgo trees in the 1970s only to later discover the problems with them.

Ginkgo trees drop large seed shells, creating a sticky, slimy, stinky mess on the ground and everything it touches. Some people think it smells like rotten eggs or vomit.

Many cities across the US have started cutting down ginkgoes, and others refuse to and are even planting more. In Iowa City, too many people were complaining about it, so the trees are coming down. “We have no recourse at this point,” said Terry Robinson, superintendent of the city’s forestry division. “It creates a sanitation problem for us because we have to be down there cleaning it up as often as possible. No matter what we do, two seconds after we leave, there are more on the ground and somebody can step in it.”

The same story has occurred in Easton, PA, where ginkgo trees were removed last year after complaints about seed shells landing on cars and pedestrians and creating a mess. Easton planning director Becky Bradley said the slippery seeds were dangerous for people passing by on the street. And then there was the smell.

“Stinky. I know, that’s highly sophisticated, but I don’t know how else to phrase it,” Bradley said. “It’s not a very friendly odor.”

People who love the ginkgo trees point out that not all the trees cause problems. The tree which is native to Asia, is very resilient, and survived an atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. Ginkgo trees withstand pests and road salt.

Female ginkgo trees produce the sticky, smelly seeds, while male trees typically don’t. Many cities in the US have banned female ginkgo trees from being planted along streets including, Bloomington, MN, and Lexington, KY.

Easton, PA left the male trees and removed the female trees. Then another problem arose in that rarely a male ginkgo tree has been known to begin dropping seeds….maybe one in one hundred, according to the Associated Press.

Other cities have decided to plant only male ginkgo trees, including Boston, Lansing, MI, Santa Monica, CA, and Washington, D.C.

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