The generic name comes from its original Chinese name, yah-chio which means duck leg for the peculiar shape of the leaves. When translating the word to Japanese it turned to ginkyo and then when changed the name to Latin it turned out ginkgo, possibly a typo.
The ginkgo is a real biological relic, a living fossil that coexisted with the dinosaurs. It is possibly the oldest tree species of the plant kingdom alive today. It is a Far East sacred tree that is cultivated in China since the eleventh century, from where it moved to Japan. There it is a reputed plant for its resistance to fire, since in a major fire in 1923 a temple was miraculously saved because it was surrounded by trees of this species. Perhaps that is why for a long time it was believed that it only survived as crop species near temples and palaces, but in the twentieth century its wild growth was demonstrated in a remote valley in Eastern China.
They arrived to the Real Alcázar during the autumn-winter of 1910 within the set of trees coming from the Real Sitio de La Granja de San Ildefonso in order to create the English garden. Of the 25 specimens that arrived today 10 remain.
Goethe wrote a poem with the name of Ginkgo Biloba inspired by a specimen, and its unique leaves, he saw it in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1815: the leaves of this tree, which from the East came to my garden, now adorns it, and they have an arcane sense ... don’t you guess yourself, for my songs, that I am both one and double?