Butchertown has been known for the wafting smell of slaughtered pigs, unbearable on a hot summer day (thanks Swift!), but lurking on Washington Street near Campbell Street is a smelly menace most notable for its unusual structural profile and striking golden foliage in fall. Yes, we’re talking about the Ginkgo trees planted along the sidewalk at this location and various others around the city.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not bashing the Ginkgo tree here (we love Ginkgo trees!), just the practice of planting fruit-bearing, female trees in urban environments. The fruit of the female Ginkgo tree once fallen to the ground can best be described as the smell of rotten cheese or fresh vomit. This smell has earned the female Ginkgo a place on many municipalities do-not-plant list of urban trees. The male variety, however, does not bear fruit and thus eliminates the problem of smelly sidewalks.
Ginkgo Biloba trees grow very slowly, twisting their massive arms into an intricate canopy over time. The specimens on Washington Street are quite sizeable now (but will become absolutely massive over time) and it would be a shame to see them destroyed. Ginkgos are really great street trees when used properly. They are resistant to much of our poor urban ecosystem and are quite beautiful, especially in the fall. But come September and October and you had better cover your nose.