One of the oldest living trees, with a claimed life span of between 1000 and 2500 years for healthy specimens! It is considered a living fossil since fossils show absolute relation to modern Gingko dating back from 270 million years. This tree has been cultivated in China for centuries, but Europeans were introduced to it only in 1690 in a Japanese Temple garden.
In herbal medicine it is proposed for the treatment, but not the prevention of dementias and Alzheimer’s. As well as enhancing memory and concentration, it has been used in vertigo to help alleviate the dizziness. This plant improves blood flow, and can have some side effects, especially in people on anti coagulants, with blood circulation issues, people taking anti-depressants or pregnant women.
The nuts of this tree are also edible, being considered a traditional Chinese food. They are served at special occasions such as weddings and the New Year. In some cases people will have toxic responses to the nutmeats, esp. when consumed in large quantities of by children. Some have had contact dermatitis when handling the outer fleshy coating resembling the blisters of Poison Ivy.
The Maidenhair tree is the national tree of China. And the leaf is the symbol of the Urasenke school of the Japanese tea ceremony. Six of these trees survived the bombing of Hiroshima!