leaf markings from gingko biloba

Hi, I am back with Gingko, which is one of my favorite plant material. Gingko biloba or maidenhair is a deciduous tree with fan-shaped leaves that turns golden-yellow in autumn. The female tree bears a soft yellowish fruit that smells bad like rancid milk or decayed matter. When the fruits are ripe, they fall onto the ground and the foul smell can be offensive. The fruits are used in traditional medicine and in Chinese cooking.

The gingko tree is also one of the oldest tree, that dates back to the dinosaur’s age–some 200 million years ago. Paleontologists had found several species of the gingko fossils at the Stonerose fossil site in Washington State. You can view and learn about these fossils at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

There are two gingko trees located two blocks away in my neighborhood. When I saw the sidewalk were paved with the ripen fruits, I knew its harvesting time. I went home, grabbed some plastic bags and a pair of gloves–and walked over to this ‘smelly tree’ that stood majestic on the sidewalk. The entire sidewalk was filled with the mushy and stinking pulp smashed by passer-by. I crouched on the ground and picked through the dirt for the ripen fruits beneath the trees.

I also picked a fresh leaves to see if the leaf prints or give color. For this post, I arranged the leaves and eucalyptus on a piece of silk; bundled it up and steamed in a pot of water. While the pot was cooking away on the stove–I sat down to “attack the stinky fruits” (even our cat stayed away). The soft skins come off easily from the ripen fruits to reveal the nut inside. The nuts are washed in water to remove residue and any lingering smell; then it was boiled in water for about 15 minutes to remove some of the toxins found in the raw kernels. After several rinsing in the water to cool the nuts, I used a small mallet to crack open the outer shells and the center part inside the kernel. Note: Unless it is thoroughly cooked, one must never consume the raw kernel of the gingko fruit.

fan shaped gingko leaf or maiden hair

yellow soft-skin fruit–yum?

skin comes off easily to reveal nut inside

From this experiment, I learned that the gingko leaf neither print nor give any color; but it will be useful to use it like a “resist” to block dyes or colors from penetrating to a certain area. Another crafty idea, was to apply paint to the leaves, and used it to print the shape on greeting cards. The result was quite nice.

dried and fresh gingko leaves with eucalyptus

faint to light stain from gingko


merely a light print impression from leaf shape

homemade greeting cards made from painted gingko leaves

3-dimensional card in various textures and colors from painted gingko leaf

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

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8 Responses to leaf markings from gingko biloba

  1. Cedar says:

    I had no luck with gingko either..


  2. morgenmaker says:

    Would’nt it be awesome if this beautiful leaf would yield some colour. We have some in our neighbourhood too but their shape is lovely as a resist.


  3. Linda St Angelo says:

    hmm. wonder if freezing the leaves would do anything? I have noticed that with certain flowers, if I freeze them, it breaks the cell wall and the color will then transfer onto the fabric. Might be worth a try.


  4. dotyuki says:

    What, if anything, did you do with the fruit. Were you able to get stain or ink from it?


    • mltai says:

      The fruits are too smelly. I just left it out in the sun for a few days, and washed the skin off with plenty of water. The leaves are are not print potential as they lack tannin.


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