The sheer abundance of this tree’s fruits each autumn required herculean feats just to walk past. The answer, at least starting this week, is a foreign tree whose odor has been likened to “rotten fish.” Many Philadelphians are familiar with the pungent fragrance of the female ginkgo tree, whose berries cover sidewalks and stink up the air across the city in the Fall. The trees are altering their scent to smell more like dog shit than vomit — a remarkable genetic feat. The tree itself smells fine, but the fruit of the female tree drops to the ground and rots, and smells like vomit for a while. The male ginkgo bears no fruit, but those of the female are uniquely malodorous. That's due to the butyric acid found in the seeds. This is not a sexist remark if you’re addressing a dioecious tree — simplified, a tree that grows either male or female flowers on separate plants. The scientific name for these plantsGinkgo biloba (or simply Ginkgo)is more commonly used than the common name, \"maidenhair\" trees. (Luis Gomez Photos) The following article originally ran December 14, 2008. to personalize content and perform site analytics. It's street-smart. and the use of technologies such as cookies by Slate and our partners Pedestrian Raises Stink Over Ginkgo Berries (Chicago Tribune). The Female Ginkgo Tree’s Acrid Smell of Success (The New York Times). Near the corner of Avenue U and 23rd Street, not far from where I grew up in Brooklyn, a female ginkgo tree was planted where a male tree was undoubtedly intended. They smell of either dog excrement or vomit, depending on the nose of the individual. Ginkgos smell. Those round things hanging in female ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba) are seeds with a fleshy covering, and, yes -- they smell awful as they ripen. The Ginkgo tree is widely known by most people but not by name. This is not a sexist remark if you’re addressing a dioecious tree — simplified, a tree that grows either male or female flowers on separate plants. If you’ve ever taken a crisp fall walk, only to encounter a smell that can best be described as the intoxicating mixture of vomit, baby crap and hangover breath, you know how unpleasant ginkgo berries –produced by female ginkgo trees– can be. The alternate spelling, \"Gingko\" is more in line with how people pronounce the name of the tree. Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as ginkgo or gingko (both pronounced / ˈ ɡ ɪ ŋ k oʊ /), also known as the maidenhair tree, is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct.It is a member of a very old genus, with some fossils dating back 200 million years. Female plants are the source of the only complaint lodged against this tree, with smelly fruit that drops in autumn. The reason? Consequently, the plants have some very odd attributes, including one particularly vivid reproductive strategy. I can only guess what the owner of the Chinese laundry was preparing to do with her collected ginkgo fruits, but some simple recipes can be found on the Internet for those who wish to pursue such a culinary adventure. The fruit begins to develop after about twenty years and it can be pretty messy. Along with this beautiful golden color, though, is often a potent smell from the ginkgo seed – it’s smell has been described as “vomit-like,” “animal scat,” “rancid butter,” or … The fruit of the female ginkgo trees release their odor for a few weeks each fall. Female ginkgo trees produce the smelly fruits. Unfortunately, the growth and dropping of the fruit is also about the only way to tell a ginkgo male vs. female. It was years later that I discovered the tree was a ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), a species that is the sole living descendant of an ancient lineage. Ginkgos (from a distance, at least) are beautiful trees with bisected, fan-shaped leaves that turn golden in October. for more information about our use of data, your rights, and how to withdraw consent. If you have any questions, please contact UFA at 202-671-5133 or visit ddot.dc.gov/trees for more information By contrast, as a street tree, the naturalized ginkgo is uncommonly sturdy. Having passed the stench, I opened the shop’s door only to find an overflowing bag of the horrid little fruits on the counter — the owner still beaming with delight at this locavore bumper crop. In fact, some street cleaning crews in areas where the trees grow in mass are assigned to pick up the fruit as it drops. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. to Slate’s Terms of Service Simply stated, female ginkgos stink. Please see our Privacy Policy Some also react to the nuts, so limiting the quantity consumed is probably wise. A selection of articles about the infamous "Ginkgo Stink" Ginkgo Trees Stink Up Cities When Seeds Fall (The Wall Street Journal). It is important to note that the fleshy outer part of the fruit (the sarcotesta) can cause skin irritation in some individuals, so wearing rubber gloves is recommended while digging out the edible inner seed. Many would also describe the smell as unpleasant. The ginkgo tree is a hearty one that does well in urban environments and so is a preferable choice for landscaping in city settings. Such native ginkgos remain rare, with a preference for rich, streamside habitats. In autumn, one of the prettiest trees to change colors, from a vivid green to a brilliant yellow, is the Ginkgo biloba.. 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