Ginkgo Trees Are Immortal

Old Ginkgo Trees Escape Death

Ginkgo trees, which produce characteristic fan-shaped leaves, can live for thousands of years. (Marzena P. / Pixabay)

By Katherine J. Wu,

Nestled in the courtyard of China’s Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple is a ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) that’s been quietly shedding its leaves for 1,400 years. From its unassuming outpost in the Zhongnan Mountains, the tree has outlived the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the scourge of the Black Plague. It saw electricity revolutionize human history and watched the world’s greatest powers descend into the chaos of war twice over.

This long-lived tree will probably still be around for decades, centuries or even millennia to come. For the ginkgo, and perhaps other plants, it seems “the default condition … is immortality,” says Howard Thomas, a plant biologist from Aberystwyth University, to Science magazine’s Erin Malsbury.

Now, researchers are starting to uncover some of the botanical secrets behind the ginkgo’s astounding longevity—a concept we fast-aging humans may struggle to fathom, let alone replicate for ourselves.

Per a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ginkgo trees don’t decline much as they age. Instead, the trees continue to pump out protective chemicals; unlike many other organisms, they don’t seem cellularly programmed to die.

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Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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