Why do Asian cities choose to plant trees with the smelliest fruit in the world?

I was sitting in this café for about 10 minutes thinking “Man, it smells like someone puked in here” before in a flash of inspiration I looked at the bottom of my shoe and found the squashed gingko fruits that were responsible. In Tokyo, Seoul and most other Japanese and Korean cities the smell can really ruin a walk in the park at the wrong time of year. What exactly are the benefits of these trees that make that reek worthwhile?? Pretty yellow leaves in autumn?? Small leaves so the trees don’t need hacking half to death to stop falling leaves from inconveniencing people?? Anyone got any other ideas??

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8 Comments

  1. Amy said,

    February 8, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Actually, only female ginkgo trees bear fruit, so just planting male trees, as most western cities do, allows people to enjoy the pretty leaves without the reek. But those cities are missing out, because inside the nasty smelling fruit is a delicious nut–you’ve probably run across ginkgo nuts before, most likely at the bottom of a bowl of chawan mushi.

    Next autumn keep your eyes peeled and you’ll notice people crouched down under the stinky trees, stuffing plastic bags full of the nuts. You might even want to try it yourself–who knows, you might learn to love ginkgo trees!

  2. alexcase said,

    February 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Like the taste, hate the smell, still don’t think it’s worth it!

  3. ridhoyp said,

    February 25, 2009 at 1:48 am

    whoa? what kind of trees like that? may i had some of that tree pictures:) salam.. iam from indonesia :)

  4. Tom said,

    March 7, 2009 at 4:21 am

    They’re cheap?

    It’s better than planting cedar trees especially if you have allergies.

  5. alexcase said,

    March 7, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Good theory, hayfever being a huge problem in Japan

  6. Daniel said,

    June 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Oh yes….I remember the female ginkgo trees just outside the Morse College entry gate at Yale University. Every spring yielded that most interesting of smells.

  7. Kelly said,

    December 9, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Gingko trees are also very resistant to disease and insect pests. Perhaps they wanted to save money on treating trees that succumbed more easily to the disease/fungi/pests?

  8. alexcase said,

    December 9, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Thanks Kelly, makes perfect sense


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