Ginkgo Biloba

Life Cycle: Biennial bearing

Family: Ginkgoaceae



Ginkgo is one of the oldest trees in existence, and is derived from a wrong transcription of the Japanese name Yin-Kwo (silver fruit). Its fossils date back 200 million years. It is native to China and has been used in Chinese cooking and traditional medicine for centuries. The leaves are shaped like fans, and the tree is incredibly resilient. This herb is a vasodilator and has been known to protect the brain from neuronal damage. It is also an antioxidant. 

Part Used

Leaves and Stems. The leaves are picked as they are turning yellow and still on the branch. The leaves can be lobed, and end up in the shape of a fan.  The Ginkgo leaf contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, and terpenoids, which dilate blood vessels. 

Medicinal Uses


Vasodilator – Improves cognitive function, slows down cognitive decline. 


Blood vessel dilator and antioxidant for aid to cognitive functioning, claudication 

  • This herb is effective in aiding individuals experiencing cognitive decline.
  • Assists with short term memory in people with or without neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Helps ease leg pain associated with clogged arteries.  



  • To prevent cognitive decline take 40 milligrams of tincture three times daily
  • To assist in cognitive functioning, a healthy adult can take between 120 milligrams to 600 milligrams of tincture daily

Safety: Check with a doctor if you are taking prescription blood thinners, statins, diabetes drugs, or ibuprofen. 


Growing Conditions

  • Ginkgo trees do best in sandy soil, although they can grow in heavy clay, loam soil as well. 
  • Can grow in full sun or partial shade environments
  • Does best with soil PH of 5.0 – 8.0 
  • Good choice for planting in landscape near the ocean
  • Plant the Ginkgo in spring after mid May or in autumn

Propagation & Planting

A mature ginkgo tree is 30 – 50 feet wide by 30 – 50 feet tall. It takes about 20 years for Ginkgo to reach full size. Unless you are cultivating Ginkgo nuts, it is best to avoid growing female trees due to their pungent odor. Until they are about 3–5 years old it is best to cultivate them in pots and keep them inside the house. 

Propagation from Cutting

  • Most people cultivate Ginkgo trees from male softwood cuttings. 
  • It is advisable to trim and thin the tree in its first 5 years


  • 30% of propagation from cuttings start rooting
  • Cuttings should contain at least 1-3 leaf nodes
  • Cuttings can root either directly in soil or in a glass of water
  • it can also take several months or weeks until rooting, and when the first green leaf shows the rooting was successful


  1. Prepare a pot or bowl with propagation substrate mixed with 40% sand
  2. Place cutting in soil
  3. Put pot in warm and light place with no direct sunlight
  4. keep the substrate slightly damp until sprouting

For Transplant

  1. Loosen the ground of the planting area thoroughly
  2. Dig a hole that is deeper and wider than the pot that the tree is currently in
  3. Line the plant whole with wire mesh to prevent voles
  4. Mix the soil from the whole with a third its weight in compost 
  5. Insert the plant 
  6. insert a pole for support when planting it, as Ginkgo trees tend to grow crookedly their first 3 or 4 years in the ground
  7. Fill remaining hole with excavated soil
  8. tread down the soil and water thoroughly

Planting tips: Newly transplanted trees should be watered regularly and generously.


  • Ginkgo trees are susceptible to nematodes.
  • Vulnerable to bacteria and fungal infestations.


The best time to harvest is in the fall as the leaves begin to turn yellow, usually in October. When the leaves are yellow they have a higher flavonoid content (after the leaves turn colour). Before they have turned yellow they have higher ginkgolides and bilobalide, which is in late summer. 

Harvesting Tools

  • Collection bag 
  • Cloth or Paper 
  • Wicker Basket 
  • A small stepping stool (to reach the leaves) 
  • Long handled hook to draw branches closer.

Harvesting Procedure

  1. Step on stool or ladder so that you can reach the leaves. 
  2. Carefully take the leaves from the branch. It is ideal to take the whole leaf off with the stem still intact (The leaves should pop off the branch easily). 
  3. Place the leaves in the collection bag or the wicker basket

Ginkgo Tincture

Items for Production

  • Grinder or food processor 
  • Disposable Vinyl Gloves 
  • Alcohol 100 – 120 proof (50 – 60%) 
  • 1 gallon wide mouth mason jar with lid 
  • Metal strainer
  • Wide mouth canning funnel and narrow funnel for pouring into final jars
  • Chopstick to stir
  • Scale
  • Tincture Press
  • Cheese cloth or press filter bag

Tincture Procedure

  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves
  2. Weigh the harvested Ginkgo leaves to be used and document the weight.
  3. Lightly grind the Ginkgo leaf to increase the surface area which releases more medicinal properties into the alcohol. 
  4. Measure alcohol needed to equal twice the weight of fresh plant material 
  5. Pour alcohol over the ginkgo in a 1 gallon wide mouth jar to cover plant matter
  6. Stir with a chopstick to remove any air bubbles and ensure that there is no plant material exposed to the air. 
  7. Cover the jar tightly. 
  8. Label jar with: 
    1. Plant name
    2. Alcohol content
    3. Date
    4. Source of herb or harvest location
  9. Place the jar in a dark place for 4 weeks or more. The tincture may be left to mature for several months. 
  10. Shake up the tincture batch jar periodically (shaking up daily is preferable). 
  11. After the curing period, pour off the alcohol through a strainer into a separate glass container. 
  12. Place the plant matter that remains in a filter bag or a cheese cloth and wring out the remaining liquid. 
  13. You may also place this bag in the herb press. 
  14. Tighten the press until all of the remaining tincture is pressed out of the dregs. 
  15. Release the pressure and take out the compressed plant material cake. Add it to your compost. 

Dried  Ginkgo Tea

Items for Production

  • Disposable vinyl gloves
  • Clean water
  • Washing vats
  • Colander
  • Plant Dehydrator
  • Vita mix commercial blender
  • Storage bags


  1. Put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves.
  2. Weigh fresh Ginkgo to be used and document the weight.
  3. Place the plant material in a large container of clean room temperature water.
  4. Agitate gently to remove insects, soil foreign plant material etc.
  5. Repeat this procedure again.
  6. Rinse well.
  7. Place plant material in a colander over the sink to drain excess water
  8. Shake colander to promote drainage.
  9. Allow to sit until heavy dripping has subsided.
  10. Spread the plant material  evenly across dehydrator trays so that there is even airflow.
  11. Stack trays into the dehydrator.
  12. Set the dehydrator to 100°.
  13. Set the timer to 48 hours.
  14. At the end of the cycle check to see if flower material is fully dried.
  15. If not dried to your satisfaction, set timer for another 48 hours.
  16. Dried plant material can now be placed in the vita mix food processor in small amounts.
  17. Use the pulse setting to mill the plant material down to the desired size for bulk tea
  18. If powder is desired the vita mix will be run for the amount of time it takes to break plant material into the appropriate powder.
  19. Upon completion, place the dried plant material in tightly sealed storage bags or containers.
  20. Weigh the yield and document the weight.
  21. Carefully label the storage bags or containers with plant name, weight, source, and the date.
  22. Store in a dark dry place.