It takes between 20 - 35 years for maidenhair trees to reach maturity and start bearing seeds. Pollen and ovules are produced in the spring on separate trees and, following fertilization, rounded seeds develop with a fleshy outer coat. These fall to the ground in the autumn and as the seed coat decays it exudes a rancid butter-like smell (3). Maidenhair trees can be extremely long-lived; the oldest recorded individual being 3,500 years old (3). Ginkgo trees have been utilised for traditional medicine in Japan and China for hundreds of years. The nuts are edible if cooked and are available for sale in markets throughout the Orient; the seeds are used to treat a variety of ailments from asthma to fever (3). The extract of the Ginkgo leaves is also believed to have medicinal properties and is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the West today (4). The leaf extract has been shown to increase circulation and is used to treat a range of ailments, including Alzheimer's disease (4).
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