The single surviving species of ginkgophyte is the Ginkgo biloba (Figure 14.22). Its fan-shaped leaves, unique among seed plants because they feature a dichotomous venation pattern, turn yellow in autumn and fall from the plant. For centuries, Buddhist monks cultivated Ginkgo biloba,ensuring its preservation. It is planted in public spaces because it is unusually resistant to pollution. Male and female organs are found on separate plants. Usually, only male trees are planted by gardeners because the seeds produced by the female plant have an off-putting smell of rancid butter.
Figure 14.22 This plate from the 1870 book Flora Japonica, Sectio Prima (Tafelband) depicts the leaves and fruit of Gingko biloba, as drawn by Philipp Franz von Siebold and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini.