Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo (or Maidenhair Tree) puts on its spectacular fall display toward the end of October or early November. For a short period its leaves turn bright yellow, and then almost overnight, they fall to the ground creating a conspicuous leaf shadow under the tree’s spreading branches. Two beautiful Ginkgo trees can be seen across the Arboretum entrance road from the Visitors’ Center, and another is located near the end of Marsh Road as it turns up to the Forest Loop Roads.
Ginkgo is a Gymnosperm (naked seed) — its developing ovules and seeds are not enclosed in an ovary. Its fan-shaped leaves resemble those of Maidenhair Fern (hence its common name) and have dichotomous (forked) venation. Ginkgo is well-represented in the fossil record. For thousands of years it only survived in temple gardens in China, and no wild populations are known to exist. The tree is often referred to as a living fossil.
Ginkgo is dioecious (i.e., meaning two houses) with separate male and female trees. The male trees are most commonly planted because the female trees produce fruits with a strong, unpleasant odor. Ginkgos are hardy trees that are planted in many parts of the U.S. and elsewhere. Extracts from Ginkgo leaves have been used for medicinal purposes for many years.
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Ground Pine (Lycopodium obscurum)
Ground Pine (also known as Rare Clubmoss or to locals as "Piney") is a non-flowering vascular plant. Although present on Arboretum property, it is not commonly seen along our public-access trails. Its resemblance to a small pine tree is the basis for its common name. It has simple leaves (microphylls) with a single, unbranched vein running their length. A cone-like structure (a strobilus) is borne at the tip of a vertical branch. The strobilus consists of modified leaves which bear sporangia in their axils. The spores produced develop into small, separately growing haploid plants (gametophytes) that eventually produce eggs and sperm. Once fertilization occurs, a new diploid sporophyte develops. Ground Pine spreads vegetatively by producing horizontal runners that grow below the ground surface. Over time, an extensive colony of interconnected plants can develop. Ground Pine is one of several genera of vascular plants related to ancient tree-sized plants (e.g., Sigillaria and Lepidodendron) that were major components in the formation of coal beds.
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