Dwarf maidenhair tree

A round-top dwarf tree with bright-green foliage
Nancy Norris
Common name: Dwarf maidenhair tree
Latin name: Ginkgo biloba ‘Mariken’
Plant type: Shrubs & small trees
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-10
Cultural needs: Moderately moist, well-drained soil; sun or part shade
Plant size: 2.5' x 3' in 10 years
Here’s an unusual little broadleaf deciduous shrub that’s difficult to classify. Dwarf maidenhair tree won the honor of the American Conifer Society’s “2010 Conifer of the Year” award and it isn’t a conifer! Ginkgo biloba ‘Mariken’ (pronounced “Marie Ken”) deserves an honorary place at the front of the railway, as in the photo, because your other little trees will appear more in scale due to its slightly larger leaves. Dwarf-maidenhair-tree leaves resemble cupped and crinkled fans, like their namesake, the maidenhair ferns, and are considered living fossils. In 1995 this mutation appeared as a “witch’s broom” on a full-size tree and all new plants have been propagated from cuttings or grafting. Famously untroubled by pests, this round-top dwarf tree grows slowly and easily if its roots avoid drought and boggy conditions. Try placing it as a specimen tree, as in a park scene for an interesting conversation piece. In the fall, you’ll be rewarded with bright golden foliage. Like pharmaceuticals, new introductions can be pricey. Ask your local nursery about it or find one online. Similar cultivars include G.b. ‘Chi Chi’ and the variegated G.b. ‘Magestic Butterfly’. Learn more, including pruning practices, at http://kwanten.home.xs4all.nl/bonsai.htm


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