Getting to Know Ginkgo Spring Grove - April 2023

As a sort-of tip of my cap to the plantsman Roy Diblik, I've started to document some of my own self-guided education with new plants and trees that I've come across in a tiny series of posts all called "getting to know".  The most recent one of these was Primrose a couple of weeks ago.  Before that, I've tried to learn about everything from Pineapple Lily to the Thai Giant to the Siberian Larch.  

The latest entry in this series is a Ginkgo1 tree that is new (to me).   I came across it in the place that I've found other, surprisingly unique species: at the Home Depot on Butterfield.  The nursery manager seems like they take the biggest risks with inventory of any of the Home Depots around us.  They have - on occasion - things you won't find at the other stores.  

So, what was this unique species?  I'd describe it as odd.  It is also small.  And sitting on a pallet next to a couple of contorted Harry Lauder Walkingstick trees.  See below for this tree - without leaves - that called out to me:


What the heck is that?  It has thick branching, but is short and stubby.  It is dotted with studs of leaf buds all over the limbs - not at the tips like normal trees - but more like an infestation of bumps.   And it has a couple of limbs that shoot up and out in a non-symmetrical fashion.   When I look at the tag, I see this:  Ginko2 Spring Grove. 


What the heck is this?  Mr. Maple has a listing for Spring Grove Ginkgo that provides some clues:

'Spring Grove' is a unique upright and compact dwarf that will reach 6 ft in height by 4 ft in width in 15 years. The leaves on 'Spring Grove' are a bright chartreuse that cup slightly upward. Along with its dwarf pyramidal shape and its shocking bright yellow fall color, this male-clone makes a statement in most nearly any garden. 'Spring Grove' was found as a witch's broom mutation off a male ginkgo at Spring Grove Cemetery in Ohio.

Witches broom?  What's that?  

The place I turn to often, the Missouri Botanical Garden has the answer:

Witches’-brooms occur on a number of conifers and deciduous tree species. They are caused by a number of factors that result in a great proliferation of shoots with short internodes that can look like a bundle of twigs or witch’s broom. In other cases they appear as a ball-shaped dwarf plant growing in a tree. Propagation of these witches’-brooms in confers has been the source of many dwarf cultivars.

There are other dwarf Ginkgos including Jehosephat (that is *also* a Witches' broom from Spring Grove Cemetery.   Johesephat is listed as being #86, but so too....is the "Spring Grove".  See this from the Conifer Society.  

So...is the Spring Grove Ginkgo the Johesphat Ginkgo?  Or, is this one of the other 85 (or even more) variants?  Or, is this Spring Grove distinct from Johesphat?  The Chicago Botanic Garden has one in their collection, so that makes me think it is distinct?

Whatever it is...it is not something that I've come across before.  And, something I'm NOT great at - impulse buying - is what my gut tells me to do here.  Why?  Because I know I need to replace the rhododendrons on either side of our back stoop.  And these dwarf Ginkgo trees sure feel like the right answer.


1. [Note...I'm using Ginkgo (with the second 'g' - which is something....I haven't exactly done right over the years.  But, never late to learn, right?] 
2. [This is, perhaps where I picked up that bad habit of not including the second "g".]

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