Where To Find Dinosaur Food Growing In London

By Zoe Craig Last edited 14 months ago
Where To Find Dinosaur Food Growing In London

There are plenty of remarkable things hidden in plain sight across London.

One of our particular favourites is the ginkgo tree, a frankly astonishing specimen, the full story of which deserves to be more widely known.

This ginkgo tree in Kew Gardens was planted in 1762. Photo from the Monumental Trees website.

They're unlike any other trees you'll see in the city: neither evergreen conifer or deciduous, the ginkgo is in a category all of its own: Ginkgoaceae.

The ginkgo is ancient. Fossil remains show the ginkgo tree (sometimes called the maidenhair tree) has been around for about 270 million years. You'll sometimes hear the tree described as a 'living fossil'.

That means the distinctive split leaves of these trees were being nibbled by t-rex and friends back in the day.

There's a chance that the healthy properties of the plant's nectar would've helped this mainly meat-eating monster's digestion.

Ginkgo leaves on Rochester Road in London. Photo by Victor Keegan.

Originally from China (where it's regarded as sacred), the ginkgo spread across large areas of Europe, before going on to survive the Ice Age.

These prehistoric marvels are as tough as they come. Indeed, six ginkgos growing around one or two kilometres from the site of the atom bomb explosion in Hiroshima were among the few living things to survive the blast. They were charred, but in time returned to full health. Amazing.

How to spot a ginkgo tree

The ginkgo can look quite delicate as it grows. It has the appearance of a slightly gangly Christmas tree. Another author has described it as 'vaguely witchlike'.

It has very distinctive leaves: their split fan shape is unique among seed plants. The trees are prized for their gorgeous autumn foliage, when the green leaves turn a buttery saffron colour.

Gingko leaves in spring and autumn. Photos from wikicommons.

Where to find ginkgo trees in London

Some of London's ginkgo trees are in obvious places: Kew Gardens has a few, as does the Chelsea Physic Garden.

There's a male (with a female grafted on) ginkgo growing in Kew dating back to 1762, less than 40 years after the first specimens were introduced to Europe from China.

A ginkgo tree at Kew Gardens in autumn. Photo by Jim Linwood.

The Chelsea Physic Garden has around five; planted in about 1900, they're pretty huge (about 45ft) and can be found close to the statue of Sir Hans Sloane in the garden.

Other places you can spot these amazing trees are at the entrance to the Tower of London; on the footpath between the Millennium Bridge and St Paul's; and outside the American Embassy in Mayfair.

Blink-n-you'll-miss-em ginkgo trees outside the Natural History Museum. Photo by ArUK5.

You can also spot them in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Greenwich Park.

Oh yes, and in the garden of the Natural History Museum — rather fitting, given that it's home to many of London's dinosaurs.

Know of any gingko trees in London? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated 19 May 2017


Behind Kew's Gingko pictured, and close to the Orangery building behind it is more Dinosaur fodder. Beside the footpath is a fine Araucaria araucana otherwise known as the Monkey Puzzle Tree and close by that, its 'cousin', Kew's Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobillis).

"The Wollemi pine was known only from fossils until 1994 when it was found growing in a rainforest gorge in Australia.
Wollemia nobilis (Wollemi pine) has been dubbed a 'living fossil' as it represents the only remaining member of an ancient genus dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, over 65 million years ago. This fascinating tree was only discovered in 1994, causing great excitement in the botanical and horticultural worlds"


There's one at the entrance to the Waitrose car park in Bromley!

Achim Von Malotki

Harewood Avenue in Marylebone, from Marylebone Station onwards to Rossmore Road is an avenue lined by Ginkgo trees!

Steven Barker

A little ways away in north Richland, WA, USA the residential streets are lined with Ginko trees. My home had a couple of Ginkgoes in front along the road. They are still there, I am not.

Watford Boy

A few line Caledonian Road south of the canal.


There is one at the junction of Newport place & Newport court in china town,also if you count Richmond there is a fine one in the grounds of Darell primary school best seen from Niton road DT4 0PG.

Mark West

I grew up with a ginkgo tree growing a garden two doors down in The Uplands in Loughton Essex. I recall being told the whole street used to be a wild orchard and the tree was brought over from China the same time as the one in Kew Gardens