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Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is widely cultivated in many urban areas around the world as an ornamental and shade tree. Ginkgos are well suited to the urban environment because of their unique ability to tolerate pollution, thrive in confined spaces and generally be resistant to diseases and insects. Examples of the ginkgo's tenacity may be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where several gingko trees growing dangerously close to the 1945 atom bomb explosion were among the few living things in the area to survive the blast.

In Japan, where it’s known as “icho”, the tree is found all over the country — in temples, in urban parks, and along city streets. It’s the official tree of Tokyo, and the ginkgo leaf is the symbol of Tokyo. Among the many ginkgo lined streets in Tokyo, the Icho Namiki or Ginkgo Avenue located in Meiji-jingu Gaien Park, is the most popular.

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Photo credit: Naoki Nakashima/Flickr

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