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If there were a real Jurassic Park, it would have ginkgoes growing in it. The ginkgo species we know today - a pollution-resistant street tree with distinctive, fan-shaped leaves - is the only survivor of an order that dates back 270 million years and once grew across North America, Europe, and Asia. It may be Earth's oldest seed-bearing plant. Ginkgoes were thought to be extinct, known only as fossils, until 1691. Englebert Kaempfer, a German physician and botanist, found ginkgoes growing in Japan. Chinese Buddhist monks had propagated the tree, which had virtually disappeared from the wild, growing it in monasteries and temple gardens beginning about AD 1100. The tree spread to Japan with the spread of Buddhism.

Source: Encyclopedia Americana; on the Internet: The Ginkgo Pages, by Cor Kwant.

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