Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

The Maidenhair Tree

By Kathy Thomas-Rico

From where I sit, I have a bird’s-eye view of the changing leaf colors that fall brings. Who says California doesn’t have autumnal color? Vacaville’s stately evergreens — oaks, redwoods, Italian cypress, even palms — are getting some colorful competition from the Chinese pistache, liquidambars and ‘Raywood’ ashes.

Alas, nothing yet from the ginkgos, what some folks call maidenhair trees. Patience pays off with these trees; the colorful show will come a little later in autumn. If you are in the market for a showstopper of a tree, one that’s rather slow growing and pest resistant, a visit to the nursery to look at ginkgos is in order. If your yard is not huge, consider a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety, as full-sized ginkgos can reach 80 feet in height. And make sure you pick out a male ginkgo; female trees produce messy, smelly fruit.

Here are some examples, which should be available regionally. Check online for availability:

Jade Butterfly’ — Large, scalloped leaves are divided almost in two in the center evoking the image of fluttering butterflies. As a semi-dwarf ginkgo, one can expect a height of 9-12 feet in about 10 years — less if grown in a container.

Jehosephat — Very dense and very slow growing. Expect a height of 6-8 feet in 10 years. Height, as with all dwarf and semi-dwarf ginkgos, is variable depending on climate, soil conditions, fertilizer.

Mariken — This unique ginkgo naturally grows in a tight, globe shape. It is a dwarf yet has a typical leaf size.

‘Munchkin’ — Tiny leaves and twiggy branches. Munchkin is slow growing to around 3 feet in 10 years. This may be the smallest growing of the dwarf ginkgos.

Shangri-La’ — A fine, upright growing male variety with golden fall foliage.

‘Thelma’ — New compact form. Some leaves emerge fringed, some are rolled. The same tree will display lacy foliage right next to small, rolled leaves. Thelma is pretty wild.

‘Troll’ — Small, deep green foliage is arranged in irregular clumps. The foliage also appears very dense. Dwarf.

A full-size ginkgo tree provides a splash of gold among the greens and reds of late November in Vacaville. (photo by Kathy Thomas-Rico)
A full-size ginkgo tree provides a splash of gold among the greens and reds of late November in Vacaville. (photo by Kathy Thomas-Rico)

Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 9:24 AM


I had no idea that the ginkgos could be dwarf. It's good to know that you can get such a good variety.

Posted by Marcus on January 3, 2019 at 3:09 PM

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