Significance of Ginkgo Biloba
The ginkgo tree appeared on earth approximately 230 million years ago, which was before dinosaurs evolved. They were referred to as 'living fossils' by Charles Darwin. These trees are so hardy that one of them lived through the atomic blast that destroyed Hiroshima (Anonymous No. 2, 1997). This tree is one of the earth's two oldest trees, The members of the Ginkgoacae family grew in parts of what are now Australia, the British Isles, Greenland, China, Russia, northern Europe, Japan, South America, Africa, and in the United States during the Mesozoic Era. It later retreated to a small area in eastern China with the changes in the world climate. It is the only surviving tree of the ginkgo family (Corrigan, 1997).
The ginkgo was reintroduced to the United States in 1784. Today, these trees are all over the world again. They can be found in almost every city in the United States. Its species name "biloba" refers to the two-distinct lobes, which is characteristic of the leaves. These trees have survived over millions of years due to their resistance of disease, pests, fires, and air pollution. They can grow in almost any condition, which includes sun, shade, heat, cold, smog, pollution, wind, and humidity (Foster, 1996). The ginkgo tree can grow 75 to 100 feet tall with a trunk up to 8 feet in diameter, They have a distinctive fan- shaped leaf, which are bright green in the spring. Their leaves turn to a dull green in the summer and become a translucent gold in the fall (Corrigan, 1997). The ginkgo tree was used for many purposes, even in the ancient times.
The ginkgo leaf was first mentioned in Lan Mao's Dian Nan Ben Cao, published in 1436. Lan Mao notes the external use to treat skin and head sores, as well as freckles. internal use of the leaves was noted the first time in Liu Wen-Tai's Ben Cao Pin Hui Jing Yao, a work recorded in 1505. Liu Wen-Tai notes the use of leaves in treating diarrhea (Foster, 1996). In traditional China, the seeds, with fleshy rind removed, are considered to be more beneficial than the leaves. The Chinese used the seeds as an astringent for the lungs, to stop asthma, enuresis, and excessive leucorrhea. It was also used to regulate urinary frequency and to suppress coughing (Foster, 1996). The Chinese have also used the ginkgo tree for promoting life longevity and increasing sexual endurance (Anonymous No. 2, 1997). In the present day, the ginkgo tree has numerous uses.
The ginkgo tree is used for many different things in the present day. The process the leaves go through will be discussed first. The largest ginkgo tree plantation in the world is found in South Carolina. There are approximately 12 million ginkgo trees grown here. The leaves are picked from the trees when it is cooler outside. The leaves then have to be dried within 12 hours or they will begin to rot. These leaves are dried in a massive drum at temperatures up to 1, 260 degrees. More than 2.5 million pounds of...