I’ve blogged a couple of times this month about ginkgo trees (1, 2) and the more I learn, the more intrigued I become. Judging from how many different cultivars of Ginkgo biloba are out there, I dare say I’m not alone in my fascination with this living fossil.
Today I came across an impressive resource: a two-volume e-book available as a free download from Wikimedia Commons. Entitled Ginkgo biloba: Nature’s Miracle, it was written Branko M Begović Bego, a Croatian gingko expert and collector, and translated from the Croatian by Blanka Capic.
I’ve downloaded free e-books before and more often than not was disappointed by the lack of substance. Expecting something similar, I was pleasantly surprised—very much so. This is not a skimpy brochure, it’s an almost encyclopedic treatment of the genus Ginkgo, of which only one species, Ginkgo biloba, has survived.
Volumes 1 and 2 are combined in one downloadable PDF with a total of 400 pages. Volume 1 (268 pages) is entitled “Ginkgo in general—Let’s get to know gingko” and covers taxonomy, history, morphology, cultivation and propagation. Volume 2 (142 pages) is entitled “Cultivars & bonsai forms;” it lists 220 (!) different cultivars, many with photos, and also describes the use of ginkgo in the art of bonsai.
I don’t know how many photos and illustrations are in the book, but there must be well over 1,000. In addition, there are meticulous references substantiating the facts presented by the author. Writing this book was clearly a labor of love, and it must have taken years. There is so much information that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if you’re like me, you’ll simply skip the stuff that doesn’t interest you. It’s easy to do in a PDF.
|Many photos I’ve never seen anywhere else|
The translation from the Croatian wasn’t done by a native English speaker, which manifests itself in somewhat clumsy sentences such as this example:
When the plant germinates it is preferable not to touch her until next year, but if the seeding was conducted individually in separate containers then plants can be grafted into larger containers throughout the year.
In addition, the byline “Will ginkgo be the saviour of the human kind?” will probably produce more of a groan than anything else.
However, I won’t belittle the monumental effort of translating a 90,000 word book, especially one that gets quite technical at times. In spite of the less-than-idiomatic English, it’s easy enough to understand what the author is trying to say.
|Detailed cultivar information|
Volumes 1 and 2 are available now for download. Volumes 3 (“Medicine and food—unrivalled”) and 4 (“Ginkgo as inspiration—through out the history and today”) are still being written.
Since the download doesn’t cost anything, I highly recommend you get this book even if you have just a passing interesting in ginkgos. The photos alone, compiled from many online sources, are worth it.¹
¹ I was pleased to see that proper credit is given for each photo included in the book.
|Numerous photos of Ginkgo biloba cultivars|