Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Ginkgo Trees of St Sulpice Lauriere (87)France

Pictured below are the magnificent Ginkgo trees of St. Sulpice Lauriere in their full autumn splendour photographed during the first week of November.

They were planted in 1864 during the construction of the Paris-Toulouse railway and are thought to be the finest linear planting in France.

If you would like to purchase seeds collected from these trees, prices and purchase information are to be found at the bottom of this page.

The Ginkgo or Maidenhair Tree as it is sometimes called is a remarkable tree, fossils of related species date back 270 million years. During the time of the dinosaurs it flourished across the world before undergoing a rapid decline with an eventual disappearance from North America around 7 million years ago and extinct in Europe 2.5 million years ago. Even in China where it was discovered there are no recent fossil records and until it was seen by the first westerner in 1690 was thought to be extinct. It is not even certain that wild populations of this tree still exist in china and it may owe it's survival to Buddhist monks who cultivated it in the temple gardens where specimens exist that are thought to be in excess of 4000 years old.

If you are interested in finding more indepth detail about anything and everything to do with the Ginkgo tree visit The Ginkgo Pages

The history of our ginkgo's in St. Sulpice Lauriere starts in 1864 when the chief railway engineer M. de Leffe invited the imperial prince of Japan to stay at his chateau near Limoges. The imperial prince brought with him 13 young ginkgo trees which M. de Leffe had planted at the newly built station at St. Sulpice Lauriere. At this time the tree was mostly unknown in the West. Of the 13 trees planted, 12 survived -9 male trees and 3 females and have flourished to become such an impressive sight today.

It is a truly remarkable tree, not only is unlike most other conifers, being deciduous and having very unique broad leaves. It bears fruit that look like apricot coloured plums that have the most powerful stench. It is also highly pollution tolerant, resistant to insect,virus,fungal and bacterial attack. When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945 the only thing left alive were 6 ginkgo trees, the closest of which was only 1130 meters away from the epicentre of the explosion and they are still alive today a remarkable example of the tenacity of life.

So if you are ever passing our quiet corner of the Haute Vienne take 10 minutes to pop down to the station in St. Sulpice Lauriere and marvel at these truly amazing living fossils.

This is the plaque at the station telling the story in french of these trees. If you want to read it in better clarity have a look in my ginkgo album on picasa click on the link on the top right of this blog.

Infact the plaque below incorrectly states that there are 10 male trees and 2 females. This is wrong, this autumn there are definitely 4 female trees bearing fruit, so therefore there can only be 8 male trees.

If you would like to try to grow some of these most ancient and fascinating trees you can purchase seeds that I have collected from the trees written about in this blog post.

The seeds are priced as follows.

5 Seeds £0.99
10 Seeds £1.65
25 Seeds £2.75
50 Seeds £4.85
100 Seeds £9.00
250 Seeds £23.00
500 Seeds £44.00
1000 Seeds £80.00

You can email me to discuss and reserve your requirements. Postage costs to the UK and European Union are £1.90 extra.

The seeds require around 12 weeks of pre-treatment before they will germinate, this is not difficult to do and I include free information on how to do this with every order.

And finally pictured below, one of the male trees is particularly easy to identify!


  1. I know very well these ginkos. Very interesting article! Roger Lamouline. Brussels.

  2. The Gingko is a marvelous and beautiful tree indeed. In Yokohama, Japan, where I lived for a while, there is a boulevard of several miles that is lined with Gingkos on both sides. In the fall it is nothing short of spectacular.

  3. I have seen these in a southern Song Dynasty temple dating it to 11century. Also from around this time is a ginkgo bonsai in a place called ‘fragrant hills’ just outside Beijing. Big and small at the same time!