Thursday, November 20, 2014

Urban Living Fossil

Ginkgo biloba Leaves, Pittsburgh, 2014

Those times when I start to feel depressed, for whatever reason, I try to remind myself that I am not just surrounded by wonder, I am immersed in it.  Such was the day today while walking down Fifth Ave in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, I looked down and immediately recognized the distinctive fan-like shape of the ginkgo leaf.  Possibly one of the most fascinating trees on the planet, if the fossil record is to be believed (and I'm a believer), the ginkgo has existed for well over 200 million years, placing it in the Mesozoic Era alongside the dinosaurs.  The first deciduous seed producing tree, the ginkgo has witnessed the waxing and waning of countless species.  It's hard to imagine any form of life being able to adapt to various changes in climate over deep time, but the ginkgo has proven to be extremely resilient.  Today it's a popular urban tree for its tolerance of pollution. 
Those shed leaves cheered me a bit this morning as I made my way through the bitter cold.  All hail the mighty ginkgo!

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