Gingko Trees Defy Evolution

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 202, 2021 November)

Ginkgo trees are rightfully called "weeping wonders". Their fan-shaped leaves with veins radiating out into the leaf blade are a very unique design among seed plants. No other leaf design even compares; thus ginkgo trees are rarely confused with other tree kinds. They can reach heights of from 20 meters to as high as 35 meters (66 ft.–165 ft.) tall. Although enormously large, they are deep-rooted trees — making them resistant to wind and snow damage. Their resilience to various environmental assaults is legendary. They can withstand insect and fungus attacks as well as pollution that can kill other trees.I Ginkgo trees were one of the few living things to survive the 1945 atomic-bomb blast in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Their Unique Reproductive System
Trees have three primary systems of reproduction: monoecious, cosexual, and dioecious. Monoecious trees have separate male and female parts producing flowers and cones on the same tree. Examples include fir, birch, hickory, and walnut trees. Cosexual trees produce single flowers that contain both fully functional male and female parts. This type includes the apple, cherry, pear, and American elm. Gingko trees use the third type, dioecious reproduction. Dioecious reproduction has two separate sexes as do humans: Male trees produce flowers and pollen, and female trees produce fruit and seeds. For this reason they are ideal trees for biological studies.II The gender of many trees is not apparent until they are sexually mature and begin to flower. Furthermore, the ginkgoes and the cycads are the only seed-producing plants that use motile male gametes.III For this reason their reproductive systems are very complex.

Medicinal Qualities

The most well-known uses of Gingko biloba leaves are medicinal. Supporters claim that the leaf extract, called ginkgolides, improves brain blood flow, mediates Alzheimer’s symptoms, treats tinnitus, and even improves Raynaud's disease, (a disorder reducing blood flow in the small blood vessels of body extremities, such as the fingers). Ginkgolides are also antioxidants.IV Gingko biloba leaves are one of Europe’s best-selling herbal medications.

The Ginkgo Tree as a "Living Fossil"

Charles Darwin described the ginkgo tree as a "living fossil", thereby coining a phrase still used today. Although many "living fossils" have been found, the ginkgo is one of the most well-documented.V Paleobotanist Dr. Susannah Lydon observed that one of the "most well-known plant survivors is Ginkgo biloba … first recognized in the fossil record nearly 300 million years ago. By any given definition of ‘living fossil’ – and there are many – Gingko biloba fits the bill". VI The "Ginkgo biloba is one of the wonders of the natural world, a ‘living fossil’ whose arboreal ancestors date back to the Jurassic period … unchanged since the Cretaceous."VII Yale University paleobotanist Peter Crane opined, "It is hard to imagine that these [ginkgo] trees, now towering above cars and commuters, grew up with the dinosaurs and have come down to us almost unchanged for 200 million years."VIII
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this alleged ancient age is correct, one would think that during this enormous amount of elapsed time evolutionists would expect some biological change, even if minor. Not only do we know that these dates are estimated guesstimates, as shown by the fact that they range (in print) anywhere from 200 to 300 "million" years ago, — an enormous difference, — we also know that their lack of evolutionary change has earned ginkgoes the title of The Tree That Time Forgot.XIII In comparison "Most scientists believe that the 'human' family tree (known as the sub-group hominin) split from the chimpanzees and other apes about five to seven million years ago."X This means it required only 5 to 7 million years for humans to evolve from our putative chimpanzee common ancestor and Ginkgo biloba trees have manifested no detectable change in as much as 60 times greater the time! This is another example of the major difficulties of the secular dating system.

These "living fossil" representatives, technically known as "persistent types," "puzzle and annoy the evolutionists, who feel obligated to explain why, in a world of change, these forms continue in their old placid way without changing or becoming extinct…. There must have been large changes in climate, changes in the environment, new enemies, new parasites, new diseases. Yet these creatures without showing any special virtues or abilities, continue unchanged."XI

Amazingly, ginkgo tree fossils sometimes preserve the actual plant material, not simply the leaf's impression, as is true of most fossil leaves.XII The thin sheet of organic matter preserved may be the key to understanding a lot about the tree as well as its environment.

Their very distinctive fan-shaped leaves are an advantage in locating ginkgo leaves in the fossil record. They are also one of the most common fossil leaves. As far as can be determined from a careful study, modern ginkgo leaves are identical to those claimed to be millions of years old. It is a "living fossil that has remained essentially unchanged in terms of gross morphology for more than 200 million years."XIII They are so common that one can buy excellent well-preserved examples of ginkgo tree leaf fossils on Etsy or eBay for approximately 100 dollars!XIV

Their Enormous Genome

As ginkgo trees are claimed to have first appeared as long as 300 million years ago, some might assume they are genetically very simple and primitive. Actually, they have an enormous and complex genome consisting of 10.6 billion DNA base pairs compared to the human genome of only three billion base pairs. They also have about 41,840 genes compared to humans’ mere 23,000 genes.XV  Because the tree leaf is very different than all other trees, this seemingly should create a large genetic gap between them and all other trees. Leaf shape is also a primary means of identifying trees. For these and other reasons their evolutionary history has totally baffled Darwinists. In an attempt to determine their phylogeny, "Most botanists feel that the Gingkoes are in some way related to pines. The fan-shaped leaves look very much like pine needles with green webbing between them."XVI This questionable guess is the best "missing-link" possibility that evolutionists have been able to come up with after over a century of research on these trees.


Ginkgo evolution is a challenge for evolutionists because it is a very unique tree that does not appear to be evolutionarily related to any living or extinct tree. Professor Peter Crane, when studying a stone slab containing ancient Ginkgo plant leaves, wrote that the "slab alone is enough to suggest the great antiquity of the ginkgo lineage, but it raises a still more fundamental question: where did [the] ginkgo come from?"XVII He listed some possibilities in this and in the next chapter of his book, Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot, all largely guesstimates that were admittedly mostly speculation.  A study of the leaf tissue recently uncovered will no doubt shed much light on its design and likely further demonstrate the current conclusion that the first ginkgo was a modern ginkgo. The fact is, they were initially and individually fully formed, as were the dinosaurs, during the Creation Week of Genesis, Chapter One.

I Smith, Howard. 1982. Living Fossils. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, p. 18.

II Guan, Rui, et al. 2016. Draft genome of the living fossil Ginkgo biloba. GigaScience 5(1): s13742-016-0154-1, November 21,  

III Gifford, Ernest M. 2021. "Gingophyte: Reproductive structures and function." Encyclopedia Britannica,

IV Mazza, M., A. Capuano, P. Bria, and S. Mazza. 2006. Ginkgo biloba and donepezil:  A comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. European Journal of Neurology 13(9): 981-985, September,

V Jorge, A. Herrera-Flores, Thomas L. Stubbs, and Michael J. Benton. 2017. Macroevolutionary patterns in Rhynchocephalia: Is the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) a living fossil? Palaeontology 60(9): 319-328, February 22, DOI: 10.1111/pala.12284,

VI Lydon, Susannah. 2015. Living fossils: The plants holding the key to ancient and modern climate change. The Guardian, December 14,

VII Jonnes, Jill. 2011. The Living Dinosaur: Peter Del Tredici's search for the wild ginkgo. Harvard Magazine, November-December,

VIII Quoted in Christina Larson. 2021. Fossil leaves may reveal climate in last era of dinosaurs. ABC News, August 24,

IX Crane, Peter. 2015. Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

X Beth Blaxland, Bath and Fran Dorey. 2018. Sharing a common ancestor. sharing-a-

XI Macbeth, Norman. 1971. Darwin Retried. Boston, MA: Gambit Publications, p. 121.

XII Larson, 2021. See Ref. 8

XIII Quoted in Christina Larson. 2021. Fossil leaves may reveal climate in last era of dinosaurs. ABC News, August 24,

XIII Crane, Peter. 2015. Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

XIII Beth Blaxland, Bath and Fran Dorey. 2018. Sharing a common ancestor. sharing-a-

XIII Macbeth, Norman. 1971. Darwin Retried. Boston, MA: Gambit Publications, p. 121.

XIII Larson, 2021. See Ref. 8

XIII Rui, et al., 2016.


XV Ginkgo 'living fossil' genome decoded. 2016. BBC News, November 21,

XVI Smith, 1982, p. 18. Emphasis added.

XVII Crane, 2015, p. 83.