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August 07, 2018

'A-Bomb' Ginkgo trees still grow in Hiroshima

 'A-Bomb' Ginkgo trees still grow in Hiroshima

“A lot of trees are resilient, but ginkgo seems particularly so, Sir Peter Crane, former dean of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, tells Inverse, but the thing you have to remember is that there’s a huge paradox at the heart of this ginkgo story and that is it very nearly went extinct.

Roughly 2.5 million years ago, glaciation had killed off nearly all the different ginkgo lineages, only a handful remained in the forests of central China.  Later the ginkgo spread again around the world with a little help from humans.  In Japan, the evolutionary toughness of these “living fossils” was tested again.

They survived the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 due to their resistance to fire: while all the other trees died, the ginkgoes slowly begun to grow again. Roughly 16,000 ginkgo trees were planted in Japan later on and some in Hiroshima.

In August 1945, Hiroshima’s ginkgo trees were in full leaf. When the bomb hit the branches were stripped away, leaving the outer bark completely scorched.  Somewhere underneath the destruction a tiny cylinder of “living cells” had to have survived,  its cell tissues created a compartment that was immune to destruction.
The ginkgo trees at Hiroshima all stand within 2,200 meters of the center of the blast. They were exposed to massive amounts of radiation and black rain. But after being exposed to the most stressful soil conditions in the history of the planet, the trees survived.  
"That’s the power of the ginkgo story.""

Read more on my Hiroshima-page.
Also interesting on my News-page: Gymnosperms on the Edge.

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