ginko tree for bright colored fall trees and shrubs
Photo: Mark Turner
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(G. biloba)

Gingkos put on a spectacular yellow show in fall. Considered living fossils because they are the last survivors of tree varieties that grew worldwide 200 million years ago, gingkos are related to conifers but have fan-shaped leaves rather than needles. The leaves resemble those of the maidenhair fern, thus the common name: maidenhair tree. Trees often have an umbrella shape and can grow 80 feet tall, though many stay only half that height.

Full sun; regular to moderate water; Zones 4–9

TOH Tip: It's worth noting that unless you have a large property, some of the season's beauties are best enjoyed while driving through the countryside rather than planted near your home. Quaking aspen, a shining star of the western landscape because of golden leaves that seem to shimmer as they flutter in even a slight breeze, sends out aggressive surface roots and numerous suckers, which can create havoc with pavement and underground pipes. Similarly, the beloved sugar maples of the Northeast can lift a concrete sidewalk if planted too close to the street.
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