Ginkgo biloba is the only living species in this group of seed-bearing plants, although the "ginkgophytes" are known in the fossil record dating back to the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The group reached its apparent height of diversity and distribution in the Mesozoic Era with fossils known virtually world-wide. The common name for this species is the "Ginkgo" or the "maidenhair tree". Although commonly planted and cultivated, Ginkgos are not native to Wise County. In fact, whether or not there are any remaining wild populations anywhere in the world, continues to be an unsettled question. It may be that the species owes its current existence to cultivation. Ginkgo biloba is a dioecious species, meaning that male and female reproductive structures are produced on separate trees. The fleshy seed coatings produced on female Ginkgos produce butyric acid. This compound is also produced by some anaerobic bacteria in animal digestive tracts and is responsible (in part) for the "distinctive" smell of vomit. For this reason, female Ginkgo trees are considered (by some) to be less desirable for cultivation than their male counterparts.
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