This 1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree sheds a captivating ocean of golden leaves in the fall

Trees are one of nature’s most valuable creations, providing life, protection, and even shelter to different species for as long as they live, which is usually a very long time.

While most trees have green leaves, this tree that is 1,400 years old in China has stunning golden leaves every autumn. This tree is known as the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple, Shaanxi Province.

An aerial view of the 1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree in Shaanxi, China, during the fall
h/t Colossal

Starting in November, during the country’s fall season, the green, fan-shaped leaves of the tree turn a bright yellow color and fall to the ground, creating an incredible golden ocean beneath it.

It’s such a captivating sight to behold that several local monks choose it as a place to meditate. They take in the incredible beauty of the surrounding area as they sit under the tree.

The 1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree in Shaanxi, China, shedding its golden leaves in the fall
h/t Colossal

In the middle of winter, the deciduous tree that is native to China goes completely leafless. When summer arrives, the female trees produce unpleasantly-scented yellow fruits containing two large seeds.

The ginkgo tree, aka the “maidenhair tree,” is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta.

Extinct Ginkgo species can be found in fossils from more than 270 million years ago, but the ginkgo tree still stands strong, earning it the nickname “living fossil.”

A mini ocean of golden leaves created by the 1,400-year-old ginkgo tree in Shaanxi, China
h/t Colossal

Ginkgos are believed to be older than dinosaurs. Evidence suggests that they were planted by humans in our earliest days of history. The Ginkgo is exceptionally resilient to climate change and hasn’t evolved in over 200 million years.

This tree is quite common in China, but can also be found elsewhere in Asia. This particular Ginkgo tree is located in the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple and is one of the oldest in Asia. Ginkgo trees typically live between 50 and 400 years. This tree is therefore quite extraordinary.

An aerial view of the 1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree in Shaanxi, China, shedding its golden leaves
h/t Colossal

It is therefore considered to be a symbol for longevity and eternal well-being. Some people attribute the prayers said to Buddha in the temple for the tree’s immortality. But according to the temple’s management, there’s actually a spring running beneath it, which is a major contributor to its health and growth.

Ginkgo trees were planted in honor of Emperor Li Shimin (second imperial ruler) of the Tang Dynasty. Traditional Eastern medicine uses its leaves to treat a variety of illnesses, including dementia, reduced blood flow, altitude sickness, sexual dysfunction, and other forms of dementia.

The mini ocean of golden leaves created by the 1,400-year-old Ginkgo tree in Shaanxi, China
h/t Colossal

This tree is beautiful, but it also has foul-smelling leaves. The smell grows stronger as the leaves begin to rot. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop thousands of tourists from flocking to the Zen monastery to see the tree every year.

Each day, the temple welcomes up to 3,000 people from all over the world to view the tree. They expect to receive around 60,000 people in the space of 20 days after the tree’s beautiful leaves start to fall.

Tourists will need to reserve their visit on the temple’s official account on WeChat, a messaging platform.

Listen to Michael Dodson, professor of General Biology, Botany, and General Microbiology at the Mississippi University for Women, explain the science behind the Ginkgo tree’s yellow leaves in the fall.

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