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Interview: Telling the Life Story of
Ginkgo, the Oldest Tree on Earth

Botanist Peter Crane sees the ginkgo as more than just a distinctive tree with foul-smelling fruits and
Ginkgo Leaves
AJYI
Ginkgo leaves in autumn
nuts prized for reputed medicinal properties. To Crane, author of a new book, Ginkgo, the tree is an oddity in nature because it is a single species with no known living relatives; a living fossil that has been essentially unchanged for more than 200 million years; and an inspiring example of how humans can help a species survive. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Crane, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, talks about what makes the ginkgo unique and what makes it smell, how its toughness and resilience has enabled it to thrive as a street tree, and what the ginkgo’s long history says about human life on earth. The ginkgo, which co-existed with the dinosaurs, “really puts our own species — let alone our individual existence — into a broader context,” says Crane.
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