The Ginkgo Biloba is the only surviving species of the Ginkgoales. Photo:

Cranbrook man hoping to bring 200 million-year-old trees to Creston

The Ginkgo Biloba is the only surviving species of the Ginkgoales, and Dan Hicks has been on a mission since last summer to bring them back to this side of Canada.

A Cranbrook man is hoping to bring one of the oldest species of trees to Creston by May.

As noted by Yale Environment 360, ginkgo trees are “a living fossil that has been essentially unchanged for more than 200 million years.”

Dan Hicks, a member of the Cranbrook Garden Club, said that he came up with the idea last year to bring four ginkgo trees to the Kootenays because he wanted to “add some flash by introducing a living fossil.”

“They’re living fossils. There’s a handful of other species that made it from Cretaceous times. They’re serving as a promotional tree,” said Hicks.

According to Hicks, ginkgo trees — which are native to China — had been in the Kootenays during the age of the dinosaurs: fossilized ginkgo tree leaves dating from 163 million to 100 million years old have been found in Fernie and Sparwood. It was around seven million years ago when the trees disappeared from North America.

Peter Crane, the author of 2013’s “Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot,” told Yale Environment 360 that the first ginkgo tree cultivated by humans was 1,000 years ago in China.

The Ginkgo Biloba is the only surviving species of the Ginkgoales, and Hicks has been on a mission since last summer to bring them back to this side of Canada.

Through Cranbrook’s Crop Top garden store, he placed an order on four ginkgo trees, $250 apiece. Two will remain in Cranbrook, while two will go to Creston.

Last week, the Town of Creston accepted Hicks’s donation pitch and his proposal to “encourage the preservation of an endangered tree,” and he hopes to have the two trees planted in Millennium Park by mid-May.

“The one cloud over this is that with this pandemic, it’s produced unusual demands for various items … it’s resulted in a higher demand in gardening,” he said. “There’s a possibility that it could be a competitive situation to get those trees. I’m optimistic.”

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