Gingkos and Fads

The female gingkos have finally dropped their seeds. The smell of the seeds are, for a nanosecond, sweet and alluring, but that quickly transcends to a suffocating, gag inducing odor. Strictly speaking, it is the outer coating of the seeds, the fleshy part, that has the aroma. The seeds, divested of this layer, are considered medicinal and helpful in memory enhancement.

The gingko is often referred to as the fossil tree as fossils from the tree go back 270 million years. Of greater interest is that the gingko is in its own division, class, family and genus and that there have been only three gingkos known. It  is fascinating to think that the smell of the fleshy overcoat of the seed is a smell that has been on this planet for 270 million years.

What animal would have been attracted by the seed, which is relatively large, and how did the tree find itself distributed, as it was, around the world? It isn’t the nature of the fetid smell that intrigues me, it is the ubiquity of the plant and its obvious biological success and that it produced only three species. In a way, it is perfection in nature.

Success is measured by longevity and only longevity. But the creation of something that endures is what is most intriguing. In nature, it must be a crap shoot because of the imponderables. In the world of man, all fads have a chance of longevity, but a micro-percentage are actually successful. English antique furniture is beyond the fad stage. Not that close to the gingko in longevity, however.


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