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Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot Hardcover – March 19, 2013
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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According to his accounts ginkgoes have been ever present for 200 million years or more. Once widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, they almost disappeared as the climate changed to cool and dry. Extinction of mediating animals might cause bad impact on their survival. Where caught my eyes is ginkgoes were discovered in Japan through trading at Deshima in the late seventeenth century, and were brought into cultivation in Europe and then in America. Ginkgoes were survived in China and evidently spread to Korea and Japan. Crane’s knowledge is wide and profound, he searches the origin of word “Ginkgo” in the chapter titled Naming. He explains the word originated in Japanese “Ginkyo.” People longs for it’s longevity. While the seeds have been widely used in the East, extracts from leaves have got attention almost exclusively in the West. Ginkgo leaf extracts are said to be among the leading prescription medicines in both Germany and France. It is used for symptomatic treatment of deficits in memory, concentration, and certain kinds of depression.
There is a long dispute about the subsistence of zoos and aquariums. The explanation of Wollemi pine makes me think twice about the preservation of species. The timescales of ginkgo’s life story, as he says, make us pose to consider the current climate change. Following to the modern-day mantra of more, better, faster unthinkingly will only lead us to catastrophe. The book gives us good opportunity to reflect more often and think more carefully about what we lost because of our short-sighted decision.
The author shows a real fascination with the Ginkgo tree, having delved deeply into all aspects of its history and its growth. He seems to know where every individual tree is to be found! He concludes the book with a discussion of the value of preserving not just the Ginkgo, but other rare plants. What I most enjoyed about the book was the author's sincerity in his affection for the plants he studies.
Peter Crane has fortunately organized his book into chapters so that the reader can choose only the sections of interest, instead of plowing through this long book. There is information for the person who has a female ginkgo in his backyard, the city dweller who admires the male ginkgos lining her street, the elder worried about losing his memory who is considering taking Ginkgo biloba pills, the botanist who is interested in the history of plants and how they reproduce, the historian who has visited London’s Kew Gardens, and someone who is fascinated with Chinese, Korean and Japanese culture, religious practices and history.
Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden in Saint Louis provides a fine foreword that outlines the many facets of the uniqueness of Ginkgo biloba. “…ginkgo stand out by virtue of its unique features, amazing history, and long association with people.” Its distinctive fan-shaped leaves and tall trunks are found in parks, streets and recreational areas throughout the temperate world, but are extremely rare as an uncultivated native tree.
“Among the seed plants, only ginkgo and cycads for motile sperm within their pollen tubes, a fascinating example of the survival of an archaic characteristic.” “Ginkgo has survived essentially unchanged for as much as 200 million years.”