City Trees

November/December 2021

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 39 of 39

40 CityTREES M any of the ginkgoes in Washington Square Park are female. The species is dioecious, meaning that female and male reproductive struc- tures are born on separate plants. However, Crane points out that there are "leaky males"—male trees that bear seed. Ginkgo biloba produce naked seeds that are covered by an apricot-colored, fleshy seed coat known as sarcotesta. When this seed coat is mature and then crushed, it releases an odor that some people find very objection- able (stinky)! So much so, that since 2004, the NYC Parks Department only plants male cultivars. A more pleasant way to interact with mature ginkgo seed is to eat them! After many years of knowing that the seed is edible and watching people harvest it in Washington Square Park, I finally foraged in fall 2019 with a couple of tips from other foragers on the scene. I used a plastic bag to pick up the seeds and collected seeds that had less sarcotesta on them. I washed the seeds at home to remove all the flesh then cooked them in olive oil and salt until the shells cracked. After the shells cooled, I cracked them fully open to expose the pista- chio-green colored "nut." In a word—delicious! Maturing ginkgo seeds on a tree in Washington Square Park. Harvesting fallen seeds in Washington Square Park. Ginkgo seeds with and without the soft sarcotesta coating. Newly fallen ginkgo seeds. Cooked ginkgo seeds in the author's kitchen.

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