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Gary Greer


Ginkgo biloba is the only extant species of the gymnospermous order Ginkgoales. Like angiosperms, ginkgo is deciduous with broad leaves and vessel tubes. However, unlike angiosperms, ginkgo possesses a long-shoot x short-shoot branching system, the latter producing most of the leaves, and open-dichotomous leaf venation. Given that branching reflects optimization of photosynthetic capture through structural support and hydraulic efficiency, we compared the degree to which these functions were optimized for ginkgo relative to three native species. DBH, neighbor density and size were measured in field and branch dimensions were measured from photographs and analyzed per Murray’s Law for hydraulic optimization and the Uniform Stress and Elasticity Models for structural optimization. Our results reveal intriguing differences in branch architecture between ginkgo and native angiosperms. These reflect differences in hydraulic versus structural optimization.

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