Fun Facts about Ginkgo Trees in Korea

No matter where you go, you can easily find ginkgo trees lining all over the streets in Korea. During fall, the fresh green leaves of ginkgo trees, abundantly fill the streets in Korea. The leaves metamorphosize themselves by changing colors to beautiful yellow, and the trees adorn themselves with ripening nuts. However, as the ginkgo nuts hit the floor and crack, they effuse stinky smell, and wet fleshes leave their traces on streets, which tend to irritate people.  The ginkgo nut has a white mucus substance around its skin called “Ginkgotoxin” to protect itself from other predators, but it can cause contact dermatitis to people. For this reason, individuals should be careful when touching the nuts and avoid eating them too much. 

Before 2011, people wanted to plant only male ginkgo trees because they do not have the smelly fruit. But since they did not know how to distinguish the female and male trees, they randomly mixed and planted them on the streets. 

Why did people continue to plant the ginkgo tree on the streets despite its problems? First, ginkgo trees are fast-growing plants, which can deck the sidewalk luxuriantly. Also, they are tall enough to provide a wide space of shades for people. Thanks to the tree’s natural substances, bugs do not come close to the tree, which is why there aren’t many harmful insects near ginkgo streets. Finally, it is tolerant of a lot of urban conditions, such as heat, heavy metals, and air pollution. 

Although we sometimes feel obnoxious by the unpleasant odor of the ginkgo trees, let’s try to think about the positive sides  and beautiful appearance for the sake of  our happy fall days!

by. Suryeo Kim