A Yellow Carpet

The ginkgo leaves fell all at once, 22 Nov 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

25 November 2023

On Wednesday I found a yellow carpet on Elmer Street. Ginkgo trees were shedding their leaves all at once.

The ground was gorgeous and so were the branches.

Ginkgo: Many leaves are still on the tree, 22 Nov 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

Some trees were already bare. Some were yet to come.

Ginkgo trees dropping their leaves in a Pittsburgh neighborhood, 22 Nov 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

But there were hazards beneath this beauty. Ginkgos are dioecious (with separate sexes) and the females produce fruits that smell like vomit. Landscapers try to plant only male trees but there was a female in this mix.

I didn’t pay attention until I stepped on a fruit and felt it pop beneath my heel. Yuck! The stinky flesh stuck in the treads of my shoe so I searched for a puddle to stomp in, too preoccupied to take a picture of the fruits. These are from Wikimedia.

Fruits and fallen leaves of ginkgo trees (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Ginkgos were planted along Pittsburgh’s street during the Smoky City era because they’re one of the few trees that do well in polluted air. We can expect them continue for 100s of years.

In 2020, a study in China of ginkgo trees up to 667 years old showed little effects of aging, finding that the trees continued to grow with age and displayed no genetic evidence of senescence, and continued to make phytochemicals(*) indefinitely.

Wikipedia: Ginkgo biloba account

(*) Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants, generally to help them resist fungi, bacteria and plant virus infections, and also consumption by insects and other animals. Gingkos have great immune systems even when more than 600 years old.

One thought on “A Yellow Carpet

  1. There was a stately beautiful Ginko Tree with the lovely fan shaped leaves growing at the bottom of our driveway, beside our patio & garage when we bought our home. For a number of years there was no fruit but then one year they appeared, and fell, and smelled and smelled! When they fell our car would get them on the tires when we pulled into and out of the garage. The garage smelled bad! The house smelled bad! The car smelled bad!The Landscapers gagged when they did the leaves in the Fall.
    And if that wasn’t bad enough our Shetland Sheepdog couldn’t resist eating them. Every year he would eat them before we could get them all picked up in his fenced in area and then he would throw them up later in the house!
    Finally after many years we had the Tree removed. It was sad to remove such a beautiful (but smelly) tree.
    The landscapers cheered! The neighbors cheered(they could smell it)! The house & garage cheered. The dog’s stomach cheered!

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