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Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot [Hardcover]

Peter Crane , Peter Raven
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 21.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 April 2013
Perhaps the world's most distinctive tree, ginkgo has remained stubbornly unchanged for more than two hundred million years. A living link to the age of dinosaurs, it survived the great ice ages as a relic in China, but it earned its reprieve when people first found it useful about a thousand years ago. Today ginkgo is beloved for the elegance of its leaves, prized for its edible nuts, and revered for its longevity. This engaging book tells the full and fascinating story of a tree that people saved from extinction - a story that offers hope for other botanical biographies that are still being written. Inspired by the historic ginkgo that has thrived in London's Kew Gardens since the 1760s, renowned botanist Peter Crane explores the evolutionary history of the species from its mysterious origin through its proliferation, drastic decline, and ultimate resurgence. Crane also highlights the cultural and social significance of the ginkgo: its medicinal and nutritional uses, its power as a source of artistic and religious inspiration, and its importance as one of the world's most popular street trees. Readers of this extraordinarily interesting book will be drawn to the nearest ginkgo, where they can experience firsthand the timeless beauty of the oldest tree on Earth.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (5 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300187513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300187519
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 18.1 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Shortlisted for the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.--Science, Short List"Phi Beta Kappa Award" (08/18/2014)

About the Author

Peter Crane is Carl W. Knobloch Jr. Dean and professor, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, and former director of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The Gingko tree is a 'dinosaur', a genus that was contemporary with those lumbering lizards and which still survives today thanks to a brief 30 million year sojourn in the mountains of southern China. Yet today this Chinese relic is one of the most planted trees in the world - a place assured by its beautiful leaves and many special associations - as well as its resistance to air pollution, evolved in more sulphurous times.

Peter Crane is the former head of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, currently at Yale, and he is a specialist in linking studies of extinct and fossil plants with living relatives. He is a perfect guide to this subject - using the Gingko as an example, he looks at how a tree might be studied as a fossil, as a living tree, as a population, as a symbol.... It's just the most wonderful combination in a book of all these different aspects! And the fantastic facts abound..... Gingkos have sperm that actually swim! (in an incredibly weird twist the book contains a picture of Marie Stopes who studied such phenomena before she campaigned about family planning....)

What I particularly enjoyed: lovely images of famous gingko trees; brilliant description of intriguing scientific work - from Frank Lloyd Wright to Gilbert and George, Hiroshima to 9/11, there have been Gingkos. And an overall message of care for our earth's biodiversity that is measured, sage and fiercely intelligent - far from tree-hugging, but leaves you wanting to hug a tree nonetheless.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting source of information for botanists. Peter Cave has included information on the botanic aspects of the plant and it's origin with reference to paleobotanic sources, as well as giving an insight to it's importance to cultures through time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Interesting 6 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am in the process of reading the book, which is so interesting and informative and beautifully written. I have many Gingko bonsais and really relate to this amazing tree.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review 14 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was a revelation to me. It opened up a whole new chapter of plant history, although the ginkgo tree was irrelevant at times.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, great gift 22 Mar 2013
By Paula - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I admit that I bought this book as a gift for my mother and didn't intend to read it myself. As I proceeded to wrap it, however, I began to page through it and soon found myself reading it from cover to cover. Ginkgo is a beautiful tribute to a tree that I now know has a fascinating history and a captivating story. This book will make a great gift for the nature lover on your list, but don't be surprised if you want to keep it for yourself.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Tree and Wonderful Book 2 Nov 2013
By Dr. Terrence McGarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The recent book, Ginkgo, by Peter Crane is an exceptionally well written tale about a tree. Not just any tree, but one of the longest surviving species around. This tale covers the history of its discovery, the people involved, the biology of the tree, and it discusses the trees interaction with man from both the Eastern and Western perspective.

If you have never met a ginkgo, then you are in for a surprise. Just walk down any street in Manhattan and I would bet there are a half a dozen or more around. They are indestructible and live upon the urban exhaust from cars and trucks. They can survive quite well in most temperate environments, just add CO2, water and sunlight. Not too cold and not too hot and they take off.

I have been growing ginkgoes from seed for a couple of decades. Each tree is different and one grows three feet a year. After twenty years it is over sixty feet tall. It gets abundant water sitting on the edge of a daylily garden. Others are slow growers, just a few inches. Yet they all have the distinctive leaf, and in the fall the distinctive golden yellow leaf, and then they all drop on the same day. It is a wonderful orchestrated act of nature.

Crane goes through this tree and uses it to tell many tales. Tales of paleobotany and the paleobotanists. People who look for plants in the rocks from millions of years ago. Then he explores the biology of the ginkgo. It is a plant which has male and female versions, and both are often necessary for reproduction. The seed is coveted as an edible treat whereas the seed covering is quite distasteful.

Also Crane discusses the evolutionary placement amongst on the one hand ferns and on the other hand conifers. Ginkgoes are gymnosperms, naked seeds, unlike what we have in flowering plants. Yet in many ways Crane argues they have a linkage to ferns as well.

Crane takes the reader on a journey from discovery, through understanding and ultimately to uses. Ginkgo is used for decorative purposes, it is used as a medication, and its wood has value in such areas as fine wood art.

Crane leaves the reader off with a broad discussion of the survival of species. Ginkgo is an example of a species which had dwindled down but as a result of man’s attraction to the plant has thrived. They have gone everywhere. A sort of Intelligent Survival to play on words. Crane speaks of the good and the less good in the area of survival, with his discussion of treaties which meaning well have deteriorated to protection of national interests that often do not benefit the species.

The book is exceptionally well written and is accessible to the general reader. For those who may know a bit more this is not a significant step forward. It is obviously a book for the general public and as such serves that purpose masterfully. Having a bit more knowledge I kept asking for more, but alas that was not the purpose of the work.

For example, color photographs would have been helpful, albeit costly. Also a better discussion of the reproductive cycle of the ginkgo would be helpful with some useful graphics. It is so unique that it is truly worth the effort. Yet the uniqueness presupposes that the reader understand basic embryology, alas not met by many a reader. Finally the genetic analysis would have been enlightening. The placement of the Ginkgo is some form of evolutionary tree based upon DNA analysis would have been exceptionally well received. That I believe is not asking too much since most High School students have some knowledge there.

Overall I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in plants, their evolution, association with mankind and their preservation. Ginkgoes may very well help mankind through dramatic climate changes since they managed many over their 200 million year lifetime.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, not just about ginkgoes 21 Aug 2013
By StanEvolve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peter Crane's book explains the fascinating history of the ginkgo tree, from evolutionary prehistory to today. But the author uses the ginkgo story as a focus point to explain all aspects of evolution and conservation: the book is not just about ginkgoes. This book helped me understand the crucial role that botanical gardens and arboreta can play in saving a tree species from extinction. It worked with ginkgoes, dawn redwoods, Wollemi pines, and Franklinia bushes. It can work with other woody species as well, including a rare species of shrub that I work with. You can tell from the book that Peter Crane really loves ginkgoes, and when an author loves something, the readers will too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chapter for Everyone 16 Feb 2014
By Karelian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
BOOK REVIEW

Peter Crane has fortunately organized his book into chapters so that the reader can choose only the sections of interest, instead of plowing through this long book. There is information for the person who has a female ginkgo in his backyard, the city dweller who admires the male ginkgos lining her street, the elder worried about losing his memory who is considering taking Ginkgo biloba pills, the botanist who is interested in the history of plants and how they reproduce, the historian who has visited London’s Kew Gardens, and someone who is fascinated with Chinese, Korean and Japanese culture, religious practices and history.

Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden in Saint Louis provides a fine foreword that outlines the many facets of the uniqueness of Ginkgo biloba. “…ginkgo stand out by virtue of its unique features, amazing history, and long association with people.” Its distinctive fan-shaped leaves and tall trunks are found in parks, streets and recreational areas throughout the temperate world, but are extremely rare as an uncultivated native tree.

“Among the seed plants, only ginkgo and cycads for motile sperm within their pollen tubes, a fascinating example of the survival of an archaic characteristic.” “Ginkgo has survived essentially unchanged for as much as 200 million years.”
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ginko: The Tree that time forgot 5 Aug 2013
By Gerald M. Sutliff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was surprised how much I liked "Ginko..."; it's title sucked me in even though, I've no background in gardening or botany but it made we wish I had stayed awake during botany class, back in 1954. I'm planning to start a ginko bonsai project soon; wish me luck.
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