From the Stretch-A-Leg Blog

Gingko Trees- Rare Trees Originating from China

Gingko Trees

During autumn in Beijing, the leaves around the city turn to a golden yellow. Once you learn the long history and cultural symbolism of gingko trees in Chinese culture, you will understand why Beijing is filled with gingko trees which turn a brilliant yellow in the autumn.

A Rare Tree Originating from China

The gingko tree is native to China and according to the research of botanist Peter Crane, the gingko tree has been essentially unchanged for more than 200 million years--a living fossil.

You can read more about the gingko tree’s singular history and botanical background in the book Gingko, the Tree that Time Forgot.

Gingko Trees in Beijing

An Ancient Sacred Tree

Ginkgo 銀杏 or Ginkgo biloba has been considered as a type of "Sacred Tree" in China since ancient times. Because the gingko tree has been around for millennia and has often out-survived humans during catastrophic events, the tree is a symbol of longevity and vitality.

Planting ginkgo trees outside of temples was a common practice because the tree was revered as a symbol of sacred knowledge and long lasting wisdom. Chinese Daoist shamans used gingko trees for shamanistic tree worship and would engrave on gingko trees to communicate with the spirit world.

Additionally, legend has it that Confucius taught while sitting under a gingko tree.

Gingko Trees in Beijing

Beijing’s Oldest Gingko Trees

The oldest ginkgo tree in Beijing is over 1300 years old and is still standing outside of a temple first built since the Tang Dyansty from 6th Century called 香严寺, the second oldest one is in a temple called "Dajue" or "Great Awakeness" in the western suburb of Beijing which is from the Liang Dynasty from 8th Century.

Where to Find Gingko Trees in Beijing

When you’re in Beijing, don't miss the chance to to check out the beautiful ginkgo trees at the following locations:

Dajue Temple in the Western Mountain 西山大觉寺

Peking University Campus 北京大学

Diaoyutai Guest House 钓鱼台宾馆

Sanlitun Embassy Area 三里屯

Ditan Park 地坛

Zhongshan Park 中山公园

If you would like to book a private walking tour with one of Stretch-a-leg Travel’s expert guides to explore any of the sites listed above or to enjoy your own customized itinerary, just contact us here.

Gingko Trees in Beijing

Gingko Tree AKA Duck Feet Tree or White Fruit Tree

In ancient times, the Ginkgo Tree was called the "Duck Feet Tree" 鸭脚子 because the shape (together with the color) of the Gingko Leaf looks very much duck feet.

Ginkgo tree it's also referred as the White Fruit Tree 白果树, because the kennels of the seeds are appreciated as both an ingredient in southern Chinese cuisine as well as remedy Chinese doctors for prize for its medicinal properties.

One popular dish in southern China that uses Gingko tree kennel is: Baiguozhou 白果粥  (Congee with cooked Ginkgo tree kennels).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors believe that the ginkgo kennel could reduce inflammation of the body if the kennels were eaten, it can cure certain skin problems if the kernal is mushed and used to cover the skin rashes.

Gingko Trees in Beijing

We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about Gingko Trees and their importance in Beijing and in Chinese culture. If you want to learn more about Beijing, we welcome you to travel with Stretch-a-Leg and we would love to share our knowledge of our city with you!

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