Ginkgo is the oldest medicine
The English call Ginkgo "the tree of girlish hair" because they associate its leaves with the leaves of the adiantum fern, which is better known as the "venereal hair." In Germany, this plant is still called the "Goethe tree." The great poet, fond of botany, dedicated a poem to him.
Do not remain indifferent to the ginkgo and the French. They christened it "a tree for forty ecu." It got such a strange name thanks to the botanist Petigny, who in England in 1780 bought a pot with five seedlings, they cost him 40 French silver coins each.
Americans who love everything related to dinosaurs have figured out how to make money on ginkgo. In the US Botanical Gardens, ornaments are made from the leaves of the "dinosaur tree" selected by visitors. To do this, they are treated with a special solution, covered with gilding - and now a unique brooch or earrings is ready. Joy to people, money to the garden.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo) - gymnospermic relic plant. Rod includes the only modern look Ginkgo bilobate (Ginkgo biloba), monotypic class Ginkgoids (Ginkgoopsida), the only one in the Ginkgoid division (Ginkgophyta).
Recently, in pharmacies, many medicines appeared from the leaves of ginkgo tanakan, memoplant, bilobil, gigobil, ginkgo forte and others. But neither phytotherapists nor pharmacists can usually explain what kind of plant it is. And besides nerds, probably few people know how unique Ginkgo is - a beautiful relict tree, a contemporary of dinosaurs, a wonderful medicinal plant.
Ginkgo - a living fossil
That is what Charles Darwin called the ginkgo. This plant existed 125 million years ago when herbivorous lizards roamed among giant horsetails, ferns and trees. And if it were not for the ice age, even now these prehistoric plants would grow and flourish. But 80 million years ago, they could not stand the onset of cold weather and died, including all the ginkgs, with the exception of one species.
The surviving Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo biloba) is an interesting object for studying the evolution of plants. According to the prints on the stones, the botanists were able to trace how the shape of its leaves changed. Incidentally, this woody plant from the Mesozoic era is the only one in which the needle-shaped leaves have turned into fan-shaped plates, it is a distant relationship with pines and spruces (gymnosperms).
A new plant for science was discovered in 1690 in Japan. Engelbert Kempfer, a doctor at the Dutch Embassy in Nagasaki, became interested in a tree with unusual leaves resembling a traditional Japanese fan. Small yellowish-silvery fruits emitted an unpleasant odor of rancid oil. In local shops they sold its seeds, which the Japanese first soaked in salt water to discourage the smell, and then fried or boiled. E. Kempfer described the tree and named it Ginkgo (ginkgo), slightly distorting the Japanese name of the fruit, Yin-kwo (yin-quo), which means silver apricot.
Ginkgo - deciduous tall tree (up to 30 m) with a pyramidal or spreading crown. The bark is gray, rough, covered with deep longitudinal cracks in old age. The bulk of the trunk is wood, as in modern conifers. However, unlike them, ginkgo has no tar. The leaves are fan-shaped, light green, wavy along the edge, usually dissected into two lobes, leathery, but surprisingly soft. In autumn, before leaf fall, they acquire a beautiful golden yellow hue.
The dioecious plant, female and male flowers are on different trees. Ginkgo begins to bloom late, at the age of 25-30, in May-June. It is pollinated by the wind, after fertilization seeds that are similar to drupes are set with fleshy membranes, which by November turn gray-green or yellowish.
From a small homeland - to the Old and New Worlds.
In China, Korea and Japan, ginkgo has been known since time immemorial. Now trees in natural conditions (in a warm, humid climate) are preserved only on a tiny territory in Eastern China, in the Tien Mu Shan mountains. The diameter of their trunks reaches 1.5-2 m, and a height of about 40 m. Scientists suggest that relics are approaching a 2000-year-old milestone.
European scientists, familiar only with ginkgo prints on stones, first saw living plants at the beginning of the 18th century. First, seedlings appeared in Western Europe, in the botanical gardens of Utrecht and Milan, then in England and then in North America.
At first, new trees brought a lot of trouble. In Montpellier (France), the female specimen bloomed, but did not set fruit, and many dreamed of planting ginkgo in their gardens. We did not immediately get out of this predicament: for a long time we looked for a branch for vaccination from a male tree and were found only in England.
For the first time, a plant appeared in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden in 1818. Trees have taken root well, grow and bear fruit in the Caucasus and even to the north. Ginkgo is found in almost all the botanical gardens of the former USSR.
Now Muscovites can see ginkgo in the open ground in the Main Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences and in the Botanical Garden of the Moscow Agricultural Academy named after K.A. Timiryazeva, and in greenhouses - in VILAR, at bonsai exhibitions. In recent years, gardeners of the Moscow region, Nizhny Novgorod and Bryansk regions began to grow it.
Healing leaves of ginkgo
Modern medicine discovered the medicinal properties of the plant only in the middle of the 20th century. At the same time, scientists relied heavily on many years of experience using it in traditional oriental medicine. In the famous book The Great Herbs, published in China in 1596, Li Shi-zhen, for example, praised ginkgo for treating diseases of the lungs, heart, liver, and bladder.
Chemists found in ginkgo leaves more than 40 different substances, among which the main ones are flavonoid glycosides (24%) and terpene trilactones (6%). It is they that are so urgently needed for us at present to improve cerebral circulation, it is with them that scientists associate the specific activity of ginkgo. In addition, organic acids and proanthocyanidins that promote good solubility of substances, as well as flavonoids, steroids, polyprenols, wax, sugars, were found in the leaves.
But in the seeds of ginkgo, scientists found more toxic substances than in the leaves. In Europe, they are only used for the production of medicines. In the manufacture of alcohol extracts from leaves, unwanted toxins disappear altogether.
Treat - Do Not Cripple
Ginkgo leaf extract has a wide spectrum of action. When taking medication in the elderly, memory improves, nervousness decreases and sleep normalizes. Their anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects have been experimentally established. Ginkgo preparations prevent blood clots, reduce blood viscosity, and normalize lymph flow.
Doctors prescribe ginkgo for cerebrovascular accident, accompanied by dizziness, headaches, tinnitus and memory loss. Recommended for hypertension and atherosclerosis, for peripheral circulatory disorders caused by diabetes and smoking.
Ginkgo has a beneficial effect on blood flow, strengthens arteries, capillaries and veins. And in cosmetics - it slows down skin aging, strengthens hair, and helps to lose weight. Medications from the ancient relic do not give side effects.
How to grow ginkgo?
Ginkgo is undemanding to soils, likes sunny places and is quite frost-resistant - can withstand a short-term temperature drop to minus 30 °. For successful growth, the tree needs constantly moist soil, but it does not tolerate water stagnation. In central Russia, ginkgo for the winter must be covered. By the way, trees are obtained only in bush form and grow very slowly. Where the climate is milder, plants grow up to 15 meters and regularly bear fruit. This is how trees behave in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus.
To the great surprise of scientists, ancient relics turned out to be very resistant to industrial smoke, fungal viral diseases. They are rarely affected by pests.
Ginkgo is propagated by seed or vegetatively. Sown at the end of April in the nutritious soil of the nursery, where seedlings have been growing for 2 years.
To increase germination, ginkgo seeds are stratified for three months at a temperature of 3-5 °. At the end of the first year, seedlings are usually 12-15 cm high. In the third year, they are planted in a permanent place. Leaving: top dressing, loosening, weeding, watering.
Vegetative propagation of ginkgo is possible with green and lignified cuttings, with shoots from the stump and roots. Cuttings root poorly, so growth regulators must be used. The vegetative method is especially important for the preservation of decorative forms, which in recent years have appeared quite a lot.
- N. Fadeev, Researcher, VILAR
- A. Efremov, chief editor of the journal "Medicinal plants"