Monday, 6 February 2017

Great Survivors

There are several plants and trees inhabiting the planet that are surprising survivors from the Mesozoic period, a time when Dinosaurs roamed the earth. I am showing two examples - a plant and a tree, both of which I am able to photograph simply because the plant lives with us, and the tree grows locally.

The Ginko biloba (Maidenhair tree) has been described as a 'living fossil' because it is the sole survivor from an ancient group of trees that date back to beyond the time of dinosaurs. Ginkgo genus fossils are found in both Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks, but today Ginkgo biloba is the only member of this genus remaining. They can be extremely long lived, the oldest recorded individual tree being 3,500 years old. The Ginkgo has a long history of cultural importance in Asia where it is revered - legend has it that Confucius sat beneath a Ginkgo Tree whilst teaching.
via
Fossilised ginkgo leaf overlaid with a comtemporary leaf for comparison.

Some people take Ginkgo pills, made from juice in the leaves, on the understanding that they prevent strokes and Alzheimer's. However, as yet, there has been insufficient scientific evidence to prove it works. It may be better to walk 3,000 extra steps a day, and keep mentally active by playing Sudoku or may be even blogging!!
I purchased this Cycad revoluta (Sago Palm) in a Spanish market a good 15 years ago. Obviously it was much smaller then as I was able to return with it on the plane. Although it resembles a palm it is actually a fern whose genus also dates back to before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Fossils of the cycad genus have also been discovered providing evidence of their existence dating back over 300 million years. 
Every two or three years our plant produces a new set of leaves which are fascinating to watch as they unfurl 





They look soft like ferns but their appearance belies them - as they mature the leaves become leathery, very tough and strong with sharp points at the tips. Their stems too have needle sharp prongs which can be harmful to the unwary
 unfurling day by day
footnote:
I have no idea how this giant pre-historic looking bug gained access to the conservatory - all of the windows and doors were tightly shut
He is a Cockchafer or May Bug (Melolontha) a member of the family Scarabaeidae - Scarab beetles were revered as sacred in ancient Egypt.
How do I know that he is a boy? - he has seven leaves on his antannae whereas girls have six

63 comments:

  1. The ginkgo is my favorite tree, as well.
    Wonderful photographs.

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    1. I love its leaves - thank you for your visit Rick

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  2. Hello Rosemary, The lower order plants always exude mystery and fascination. Cleveland has many ginkgo trees that were planted a long time ago, although many are being lost. Some are female and produce seeds, that unfortunately have an irritating and malodorous outer layer hiding the famous ginkgo nuts inside. I was going to try to gather some to process the seed, but never got around to that project. Are your local ginkgos male or female?

    An early house near Mentor, Ohio had a huge ginkgo tree on the lawn, possibly one of the earliest planted in Ohio, but unfortunately it was cut down. along with the house, to make room for a car dealership.
    --Jim

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    1. What a crime to cut down a huge ginkgo tree and especially to make room for a car dealership.
      My local tree must be a male as it doesn't give off any awful smells - I think that our nurseries only tend to sell the male trees because of that.

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  3. So interesting Rosemary. I have never seen a Ginkgo tree as far as I know, but those fronds look exactly like giant versions of my little maidenhair ferns. Your cycad looks wonderfully healthy and very happy in that sunny spot. We have a couple of big ones outside in the garden but they have been struggling the last couple of years with the very noticeable increase in the number of extremely hot days. So strange about the May Bug getting in, but he is interesting, and perhaps he was seeking fame?

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    1. You are right Patricia, the leaves do look exactly like those of the maidenhair ferns, and that is where its common name comes from.
      There were six trees growing close to the blast in Hiroshima, and although they were burnt, they were the only trees in the area to actually survive which shows their tenacity.
      The May Bug pretended to be dead when I touched him to take some photos, but then he quickly took off into the roof of the conservatory like a torpedo.

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  4. How interesting. We had several Sago Palms in our yard in Houston which is on the Gulf Coast area of Texas. What an interesting...but a bit scary bug!

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    1. The May Bugs are completely harmless to us Janey, but they can cause huge problems in the lawn if they decide to lay their eggs under the grass. Hopefully this male is on his own!!!

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  5. Dear Rosemary - I like gigantic ginkgo trees. Especially in autumn, it feels so nice walking under the canopy of gold yellow foliage. Ginkgo nuts is one of autumn taste, they are eaten roasted but I like them only in the steamed egg custard dish (Chawanmushi in Japanese). I haven’t seen such beautiful beetle like Cockchafer in Japan. The mystery of Cockchafer is interesting. Maybe a larva on the root grew hidden in a plant and appeared in the greenhouse?

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I agree with you Ginkgo leaves are lovely in the autumn - they look so delicate and transulent on a sunny day.
      I would love to try the nuts one day, roasted with steamed egg custard sounds delicious.
      Yes, the Cockchafer gaining entrance is a mystery - our Conservatory is not a separate building in the garden like a greenhouse, but part of our home. The larva live under the earth out of doors so it would not happily thrive in the warmth indoors.

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  6. I knew the Gingko was an ancient plant, but not the Sago. We saw many Gingko on our trip to Japan, I'm not sure I've ever seen one here in the states. On the other hand we have many Sago palms here.

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    1. The Japanese love their Ginkgo Trees.

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    2. My Japanese daughter in law would be so happy if I had a ginko ... In Florida it might be possible but I plan on moving back up North .. it might be too cold.

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    3. They thrive here so I am sure they would do alright back up in the North, but why are you heading back again?

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  7. Dear Rosemary, Only yesterday did I come across a very large larvae of (a butterfly?) in my greenhouse. It could only have come from one of my flower pots because it has been below freezing outside.
    We planted a Ginkgo tree when we first moved here. It din't survive. Then I was told that drinking too much Ginkgo tea can cause headaches.
    When I was growing up we could always count on the May bugs bombarding us as they flew clumsily from one tree to another.
    I love the sculptural quality of the Sago Palm. Mine is not as big as yours, yet.
    I have painted many a dinner plate with Ginkgo branches. They always look so special yet are so easy to paint.
    Your last to the last photo of the Sago Palm is sensational. Love the light behind it. And your May Bug is super special.

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    1. Dear Gina - I can imagine just how lovely your dinner plates with Ginkgo branches are, what a great idea - would love to see one.
      Cycads take sometime to settle and grow - mine took several years before it decided to put out more new leaves.

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  8. Hi Rosemary,
    It was interesting to hear about the Ginkgo tree. I have a neighbor who planted one close to my brick wall. She thought it was a male. After five years it proved otherwise. It drops hundreds of balls in the fall. Once they start to rot the smell will take your breath away. It is so bad that even if there is one in my courtyard I cannot sit out there!
    Your Cycad revoluta is beautiful. I am afraid plants hate me, they drop dead shortly after I bring them home. I envy your green thumb. :-)

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    1. Dear Catherine - apparently our garden centres only sell the male trees here because of the awful smell from the female trees.
      The Cycad is very easy to look after as long as I keep it indoors during the winter - it was worth carrying it all the way back from the Spanish market.

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  9. I am in awe of your bug knowledge! The cycad is incredible, amazing to see the new leaves - fronds? - unfurling. The ginkgo leaves are always amazing too, I think they are so unlike any other leaf.

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    1. I was very excited the first time that the cycad decided to put out some new leaves.

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  10. I have always loved Ginkgo trees, that cycad is delightful as well. Thank you for all the information.

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    1. It is one of my favourite trees too

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  11. Beautiful! The leaves, the tree, and your photography. Thank you!

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Linda - hope all is well, and thank you

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  12. Gingko leaves are so gracefully shaped. I had no idea they were so long lived. Who says blogging isn't educational? Lovely photos.

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    1. Yes, I agree with you the Ginkgo leaves are lovely - they remind me of little fans.

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  13. Very tropical looking for this time of year. Even the bug knows a great place to spend time in during the winter. Great photos. Shows how mild it's been when it's out this early in the season.

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    1. Apart from the cycad which lives indoors - the Ginkgo photo is from the summer.

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  14. Interesting reading as always. Near my home here in Milan there is a street filled with Ginkgo billoba's , but unfortunately they are all female trees, and in autumn they bear some terribly bad smelling seeds. But Ginkgo's are beautiful trees you just have to choose the right one :-))

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    1. I have smelt a female tree we only have the male ones here, and I think the smell is the reason why.

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  15. The Gingko is so fascinating - and Goethe wrote about it. I pressed a few as bookmarks.

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    1. I can imagine them making lovely bookmarks Britta

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  16. Your cycad looks very healthy, you've cared for it well.

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    1. I am pleased that it has survived so well - long may it continue

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  17. Very special you have a Gingko, I have only seen it in warm countries. That bug looks beautiful and very exotic, have now idea either what it is.

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    1. I suspect that you probably do have Ginkgo trees around somewhere as they seem to be pretty hardy and thrive easily.

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  18. What an interesting post Rosemary. I'd love a gingko tree, although I am not sure needle sharp spines would be my choice of house plant. There's a weed that is a prehistoric survivor too, isn't there? "Horsetail" springs to mind. Or have I got that wrong?

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    1. I don't think that you would want a Cycad with small children, but all of my grandchildren are grown up now.
      Yes, you are right about the Horsetail, and so is the Monkey Puzzle Tree too.

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  19. The leaves of the Ginko and sago palm are amazing. It must be wonderful to see the leaves unfurl on the sago palm. Sarah x

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    1. If I was starting a new garden I would definitely include a Ginkgo tree in it.

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  20. They are an interesting tree.
    Varieties available in Australia:
    ‘Autumn Gold’ – a male clone with an upright, symmetrical form
    ‘Fastigiata’ – slender, erect form
    ‘Pendula’ – long weeping branches
    ‘Princeton Sentry’ – an upright growing male tree.
    ‘Saratoga’ – pyramidal male tree with a strong central leader
    ‘Variegata’ – leaves green and yellow

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    1. What an interesting variety you have growing there Margaret

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  21. I've always enjoyed the Gingko leaves - used to collect them from a few trees growing outside the courthouse downtown - when I worked in the city and spent lunch time on the pedestrian mall. I would press them and use them on craft items such as gift tags. I think some may still be hiding in my scrapbooking'mess', I must go look for them and do something pretty with them! Time has flown and I can't keep up!

    Posting more Oct. safari photos from Africa today - birds - I must get these posts completed before I travel again in May - just too many photos on my laptop!

    Happy days dear friend - loving your photos as always - Mary

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    1. Good idea Mary - I will collect some leaves when the autumn comes and they turn pale golden - they are such a pretty shape.
      Can't wait to get away to some warm sunshine - I am off, somewhere new for us, in mid March.

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  22. Lovely series of green (except for that little critter..:).

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    1. Looking forward to the return of some leaves on the trees again

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  23. Love the ginkgo tree, had no idea that it dated from so long ago. A fascinating post with beautiful photos. B x

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    1. I found it fascinating too when I first learnt about this.

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  24. What a fascinating post, Rosemary! I just enjoy visiting your blog! Thank you for sharing this.

    PS
    I wanted to let you know that my new blog address is http://www.alexandramacvean.blogspot.com. Please make sure to update your newsfeed so we can stay in touch!

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  25. Dearest Rosemary,
    Yay, I'm able to visit some blogs again as another project is half done. Tomorrow I will finish and will also blog about it later... Feels so good.
    You have quite a healthy looking Ginkgo biloba, ours is not that lush looking. We lost two of those young trees and this one barely grows.
    The Sago palm we had plenty of in Indonesia and here on the balcony I had special planter boxes with Sago palm but they froze one winter. We got again some in our garden, near the driveway and hope they survive many years.
    Your May Bug is a very special insect to be photographed like this.
    Well, it maybe entered in some potting soil as a premature bug and developed once inside your conservatory.
    Love the antenna for the male and female difference.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I am very pleased with the Cycad as it was only a young one when I bought it in Spain. I think that if I left it out in the garden during the winter though that would be the end of it.

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  26. Beautiful leaves. Enjoyed going through your blog. Have a nice time!

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    1. That is very kind of you - thank you

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  27. A new pet ? Maybe it eats Ginkgo leaves.

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  28. I really like the shape of the leaves of the tree. Your palm beautifully presented. Regards.

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    1. I love the leaves too, they are like little fans.

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  29. Rosemary, you take incredible photographs of nature around you. Thank you.

    Visiting from Sydney, Australia
    Alexa-asimplelife

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    1. Thank you for visiting Alexa and I appreciate your kind comment

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  30. Likewise, I always learn new things here. And yes, the Ginkgo Tree is incredible! I hope you are well, Rosemary.

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    1. Thanks for all of your kind and generous comments Michael all of which I enjoyed receiving and reading - hope all is well with you and yours too.

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  31. Não sabia que o ginko biloba é tão antigo! Gostei de ler esta postagem.
    As fotos continuam incríveis, principalmente a do besouro.

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