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Entries in Arundinaria (1)


Gingko and Bamboo

While taking out the garbage as part of my kitchen chores at the Garrison Institute, I was struck by this colorful grouping of Gingko and bamboo at the back of the main building. Two interesting botanical stories here.

Gingko biloba L. is native to a small area of Zhejiang province in eastern China, and the species was initially thought to be extinct in the wild.  Several specimens, however, were found that had been planted and preserved by Buddhist monks. The innumerable Gingko trees that have been planted throughout the world are all progeny of these few trees. Bows of gratitude to the monks for conserving this germplasm. [NOTES: More on the restricted genetic diversity of "wild" Gingko populations in China and evidence for thousands of years of planting by Buddhist monks can be found here. Fascinating story].  

And then the bamboo. It is estimated that there are over 1600 species of bamboo in the world, over half of which grow in Southeast Asia. Only three species, e.g. Arundinaria gigantea (river cane), A. tecta (switch cane), and A. appalachiana (hill cane), are native to America. Only about 2% of the extensive cane breaks that originally extended over North America are still extant; most fell victim to the plow. [NOTE: The bamboo pictured above is, unfortunately, neither species of Arundinaria. Looks more like a cultivar of Phyllostachys, maybe P. aureosulcata McClure].