Blog Post

D.C. Launches its Annual Campaign Against the Smell of the Ginkgo Tree

The ginkgo tree is known for a lot of things – its fan shaped leaves, gorgeous fall color, its status as a living fossil, and the unfortunate smell of the fruit that female trees produce and subsequently shed. Described as a frightening cocktail of dirty gym socks, rancid butter, or even vomit, the fallen fruit is certainly notorious.

Even though they have an odd smell, Ginkgo trees are uniquely suited to survive harsh city life – not only can they hold their own against air pollution, but they stand strong in the face of soil compaction, pests, disease, salt, wind, cold, drought, fire, and even nuclear blasts. Taking this into consideration, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is the only city in the country with a permit to annually spray female ginkgo trees throughout the District with Shield-3EC 24(C), the same spray they’ve been using for 20 years.

Spraying started April 20 in Ward 5 and proceed to Wards 4, 3, 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8. Spraying occurs during the evening for several nights and thankfully there is no need to move vehicles and it is not harmful to humans (and pets) or other plants and trees. Want to check and see if there’s a mature female ginkgo by you? DDOT has a map for that.

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