We have a ginkgo tree in front of our apartment. Every year it litters the ground with stinky fruit that we then bring inside on our shoes. The stairs get a stinky bath and we leave the shoes sitting in the hall with the fruit still attached…imaging we will clean them later.
I have heard that the city tries to just put in male trees to prevent the fruit mess, but I also read in Ellen Zachos great book Backyard Foraging, that it is actually impossible to tell the tree’s gender without a DNA test. Apparently, according to Zachos, the Urban Forestry Administration in the District of Columbia sprays female trees to inhibit the stinky fruit and then sometimes even cuts them down if this doesn’t work. Why? It isn’t that bad. The trees are actually beautiful.
In any case, the seeds are edible, but don’t let your kid just pick the fruit or put them in their mouth. The skin might cause an allergic reaction in sensitive people and the seeds should be cooked before eating. I would do some research on exactly how before trying it—I am not that adventurous when it comes to food. Some people take ginko leaf extracts as a supplement, but the evidence is mixed, and like anything, sometimes toxic.
Facts about Ginkgo Trees
According to the http://canadiantreetours.org website, for hundreds of years ginkgo trees were planted as a sacred tree on the grounds of Buddhist monasteries
It is also called a maidenhair tree and indeed looks a lot like a maidenhair fern
They can live as long as 3,000 years which means that I’ll be dealing with the stinky fruit every year as long as I am here, but I don’t really mind that much. It is worth it to have these beautiful trees in Brooklyn.