Ginkgo - Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo - Ginkgo biloba

The Treasure Within

One of my favorite quotes is that nature was never mute, but that man has simply become deaf. And perhaps this was inevitable, for we were weaned so early from nature’s voice, that the only thing left for us was to plunge into a world of material illusion, where the only voice we could hear was the voice of destructive ambition. And so almost instinctively we began devoting the precious span of our lives running here and there, uprooting the world in a desperate attempt to be somebody, to establish ourselves as an enduring power, within an unenduring span of life.

"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light."

This is the story most of us have inherited, and quite naturally we accept it without question. But in getting closer to nature we have started to discover an older story, one that quietly sits in the background, and the more we get beyond the soul encasing world of material illusion, the more we are able to see and hear it.

"Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."

Enter the Ginkgo tree, an extremely ancient tree that only just recently made our acquaintance. It has been called by some “a living fossil, “and by others the “Father of all trees,” but for us, we like to call it “a reminder.” Because not only has this ancient tree born witness to the many cycles of human arrogance and destruction that material illusions can produce, but it has also provided us with a powerful metaphor in the form of its fruit that has helped remind us of a different story.

"Oh the difficulty of fixing the attention of men on the world within them."

The fruit of the Ginkgo tree has two very distinct qualities; it has a terrible smell, and it is rather irritating to the skin when touched. It is this fruit that often reminds us of life, because sometimes life stinks, and sometimes it stings. And just like the Ginkgo fruit, many people have trouble getting beyond the stink and sting, and never realize that there lies an amazing treasure within it all. For to go beyond the encasing of the Ginkgo fruit, is to find a wonderful and delicious nut like seed hidden within.

"The small ruby everyone wants has fallen out on the road. Some think it is east of us, others west of us. Some say, 'among primitive earth rocks,' others, 'in the deep waters.' Kabir's instinct told him it was inside, and what it was worth, and he wrapped it up carefully in his heart cloth."

What if the purpose of our sometimes awful encasing, that particular place and circumstances of birth and of life, what if these exist in order to help us in discovering that hidden treasure within?

"Destroy your house, and with the treasure hidden in it, You will be able to build thousands of houses. The treasure lies under it; there is no help for it; Hesitate not to pull it down; do not tarry!"


The nut is really the only widely accepted edible part of this tree, but there are also some reports that the leaves are edible. It is said that the nut (technically a seed) should be cooked and eaten in moderation due to the presence of 4'-O-methylpyridoxine. Though it would seem that Asian cultures, who have long used the Ginkgo nut, do not seem terribly worry about this.

The Ginkgo tree is a long lived (some reports say that these trees can live longer than 1,000 years) and quite beautiful tree, with a unique leaf pattern and amazing fall colors. Ginkgo is dioecious, which means only female trees have nuts, and these nuts should probably be picked with gloves due to reports of irritating chemicals in the fruit. Ginkgo nuts are said to be high in niacin, with a good amount of starch and protein.

You may also come across dried Ginkgo leaves in the form of herbal supplements. The leaves have a long history of medicinal use, mostly used in the form of tea, which apparently contains a unique ingredient called ginkgolides. The leaves are said to be useful for memory and focus, increased circulation, and asthma and allergies.


The fruit should be cleaned outside before bringing the nut inside. We have also read about some traditional methods for extracting the nuts. This involves picking a large quantity of seeds and burying them in the soil. Apparently the good earth will clean off the stench and leave the nut ready to be picked like a peanut.

We have only just recently stumbled upon this wonderful tree. The links to the right contain some good information on preparing Ginkgo nuts, by others who have more experience in preparing this nut.

Sitting With

Find a Ginkgo tree and just sit with it. There is so much beauty. Here is a picture of a ancient Ginkgo in Japan celebrating its fall cycle with color.