Celebrating APHA month with cherry and ginkgo trees

Last year, Alicia created this video for APHA month and to honor her mother, but we never posted it out of respect for Black Lives Matter. This year, we are a little late, but better late than never! Learn some new facts about cherry blossoms and ginkgo trees!

[Video Description: Alicia, an Asian woman, wearing a grey shirt with a red cardigan on top. Plants are in the background with a mug saying “woman on a mission”

01:23 – light pink/white cherry blossoms with 5 petals
01:25 – light pink/white cherry blossoms with 10 petals
01:27 – light pink/white cherry blossoms with 20 petals

01:34 – white cherry blossoms
01:35 – dark pink cherry blossoms under the white cherry blossoms photo
01:37 – yellow cherry blossoms]

Transcript: The month of May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Before the month is over, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate my heritage and my late mother, who is Japanese and immigrated to the US in her early 20s. (show picture) My mother, Kazuko Sakaguchi loved all things nature, flowers, and plants (in picture of mom with nature, flowers) and so today I will share a little bit about two types of trees, cherry blossoms and ginkgo trees.

Maybe you’ve heard about the famous cherry trees in Washington, DC. Well there are over 3,000 cherry blossom trees of several different varieties. In 1912, Japan gave these trees to the US as a symbol of friendship. In order to keep the genetic lineage of these “friendship trees”  in 2011, about 120 propagates of the 1912 trees were sent back to Japan. 

There are over 100 varieties of cherry trees and each one is slightly different. Many blossoms have 5 petals, but some varieties can have 10, 20, or more petals on one flower! (show photos) The colors of the flowers also vary, some varieties produce white flowers, other pink, and even yellow (show photos). Some varieties even change over time, starting white then becoming pink. Even the shape of the tree varies! Triangular, columnar, weeping, and flat-topped are just a few (show photos). 

Cherry blossoms are part of a big family, with many species. However, ginkgo trees, there is only one species left, the Ginkgo biloba (show picture). All other species are extinct and the ginkgo tree is a living fossil. A living fossil is an organism who still genetically resembles something from the prehistoric times (think dinosaurs) without many changes and has no other living relatives. Fossils we find of ginkgo trees appear to be similar to the living tree! 

Gingko trees come from Southeast Asia and were relatively rare and they have a unique fertilization process that must include water. The sperm is flagellated and needs water to move and reach the ovule egg. Because of this complex fertilization process, many plant biologists believe that without human help, the Ginkgo biloba would have gone extinct.

One interesting fact about ginkgo trees, is that female trees will produce seeds that have an outer coating and when it starts to decay, it smells similar to vomit. This might be an evolutionary adaptation to attract dinosaurs and mammals to eat the seeds and defecate them out elsewhere. In any case, ginkgo trees are popular in many places, but most places now will only plant male trees, which do not have a smell. 

Next time you find yourself surrounded by cherry blossom trees, ginkgo trees, or in an arboreum, take a moment to observe the differences in size and shapes of the flowers, leaves, fruit, bark, and roots!



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