When I was in the university, there was a big tree near our cafeteria that turned bright, golden yellow each autumn. It stood alone, apart from the other trees, as if in embarrassment because of the stinking smell of its seeds which fell on the ground. But its striking color easily made it my most favorite tree of all, and it became something to look forward to every autumn season.
I learned that the name of the tree is “ginkgo” or ichou (Ginkgo biloba). Right at our institute, we can enjoy a beautiful avenue lined with ginkgo trees. Every autumn many people would stop and take photos of this avenue. Some of them would even pick up the seeds (which are supposedly edible). As to why people would want to eat the seeds with such stinky smell (well actually it’s just the rotting flesh), your guess is as good as mine. Well, we do eat durian, which is probably the smelliest fruit ever, right? Anyway, when the tree leaves are in their brightest yellow, you can expect them to last for only a week or so, and then the leaves start falling down.
It amuses me to know that the English name for ginkgo is “maidenhair tree.” Quite an amusing name for a tree that produces one of the smelliest seeds around. By the way, here is an interesting website I came across while searching for some related information on ginkgo.
Let me just share some photos I’ve taken of these trees. Lovely, aren’t they?
Every year, we bring Aya with us to take photos of the ginkgo inside our institute.
Here’s another shot, taken one really fine autumn day about two years ago. The building on the right is the AIST Tsukuba headquarters.