07 November 2011

Ginkgo Stink

Some hard-hitting journalism today...
As anyone who has one of these gingko trees on their property, or close to it, or walks by sometimes, knows the gingko tree drops a fruit that as it breaks down smells strongly and very similarly to....well, puke.  Like the world's biggest pile of puke.  I thought I'd research a little to see why it smelled, "it stinks because the pulp contains butyric acid, a chemical found in various amounts within vomit, feces, parmesan cheese, and rancid butter."  That is some pungent company.  Unknown fact: the nut (different from the female fruit?) has long been gathered and eaten in parts of Asia.
This article (from Iowa City) highlights some of the problems these trees have and are causing for city planners.  It also covers a question that came up as I was reading these articles.  I did not know there were female and male trees.  Or that a male could become a female.  Wild stuff.  They really do create a mess, though.  On a big tree the fruit cover a big area and turn into a slippery pulp that covers the sidewalk.  There are quite a few around my neighborhoods and the bottom of my running shoes stinks.  I had to spray them down with 409 before putting them into my closet.  


  1. I have one here at the farm!! no smell yet but they also fell off before they turned that beautiful yellow. It sounds terrible. no puke smell for me, I hate that --and school is not a place to be if you detest puke smell. :(

  2. I retired my toothbrush a little early so I could clean my shoes today. I took your advice of the 409 and sprayed them after scrubbing them down, just in case any of putrid smell was lingering :)

  3. Not a pleasant smell at all. Thanks for all the useful info, I learned a lot.

  4. neat information. there was a long sidewalk and string of the ginkgo trees. i think it was between buxton park and kresge hall. nasty!