81°Mostly Cloudy

“To prevent the notoriously unpleasant odor of female ginkgo fruit” Spraying Starts Monday

by Prince Of Petworth April 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm 22 Comments


From DDOT:

To prevent the notoriously unpleasant odor of female ginkgo fruit from overtaking city streets, the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) will start spraying these fruits starting Monday, April 29.

Spraying will begin in Wards 1, 2 and 6, where female ginkgo trees are most prevalent, and continue through Wards 4, 3, 7, 8 and 5. Spraying will occur overnight for several nights and there is no need to move vehicles parked on streets. If you have any questions, please contact UFA at 202-671-5133 or visit ddot.dc.gov/trees for more information

We’ve previously discussed this unpleasantness a couple of years ago. Anyone starting to notice the smell this year?

  • I don’t know what the big deal is. The smell is no worse than cilantro or Jim Graham.

  • Anonymous

    What are they spraying it with???

  • Handelfree

    Spraying with what exactly?

    • Male ginkgo scent! j/k.

  • Matt

    Google is a magical thing: the ddot urban forestry page posted an MSDS for the material

    • Anonymous

      Well providing more information from the start would be preferable. Especially when it comes to chemicals being sprayed.

      • Anonymous

        There’s more info in the press release that I saw. PoP just didn’t include it here. It’s the sprout inhibitor used on most all potatoes.

  • Anonymous

    Witch 2: God!, it smells like a cafeteria steam tray full of ass!!

    Witch 3: No, it’s more like someone dropped a rancid pork chop into a port-o-toilet.

    Witch 1: Ugh! I got it. It smells like a bunch of longshoremen having sex in a butcher shop.

    Witch 2: This is just plain stinky!

    Witch 3: It smells like they’re cremating people next to like a hot dog factory!

    Witch 1: Oh! This reeks!

    Witch 2: It smells like tuna fish….tuna fish watered down, served through Andre the giant’s ass!!

    Witch 1: Oh, my God!

    Witch 3: No. It’s more like…

    Witch 1: Its like a porno theater or something. A porno theater after the air conditioning broke

  • jcm

    They list some brand name on their site, but the chemical they use is Chlorpropham. It’s a germination inhibitor.

  • Anonymous

    Who was the idiot that planted them in the first place??

    • Hello Goodbye

      In defense of Ginkos, they are an extremely hardy tree well suited (other than scent/need for spraying) for the city.

      I also personally think they are very cool because they have a very slow rate of evolution. They are basically a living fossil, hardly changed from the time when dinosaurs first appeared.

      • DC20009

        They’re also quite beautiful, especially in the fall when their leaves turn golden and fall in great drifts. The thing is, there didn’t use to be a way to know if a tree was M or F until maturity so you couldn’t be sure about the berries until it was too late. But probably in era when streets had horse manure in then, ginkgo berries maybe weren’t so noticeably bad.

    • Someone who appreciated beauty and accepted that there might occasionally be a mild inconvenience to enjoy it?

      • John B.

        Ginkgos are tough and beautiful trees–especially when they turn that glorious yellow in the fall–but they are a terrible choice as a street tree, at least as far as DC has planted them. Instead of spending a few extra bucks up front and planting all females (which will never be pollinated and thus never bear fruit–the ideal situation) or all male (which will never produce fruit, but dump tons of pollen into the air) the District planted unsexed trees (probably grown from seed, rather than grafted and thus of known sex) so you get the worst of both. The fruits are very messy and very nasty-smelling over quite a long period and even though I love ginkgos I would be very dismayed to have one in front of my house.

        BTW ginkgos are very long-lasting and very large-growing trees. I have to wonder what the District will do when they start reaching true maturity, when their trunks will reach diameters considerably greater than the width of the hellstrips they’re normally planted in.

        • John B.

          I forgot to mention that for some people the fruits are extremely allergenic, causing a poison ivy-like rash. I found this out the hard way, after washing some seeds to plant them (the seedlings make very nice bonsai specimens). BTW the roasted seeds are supposedly edible, a delicacy in fact although I’ve never tried them and will never touch one of them again!

  • Hello Goodbye

    I presume this is the right time of year to spray. But we wouldn’t start smelling the trees unless they produce fruit, which, I believe, happens in the (late) fall.

  • Anonymous

    They should save their money or do it properly. Spraying NEVER works on the Kingman St NW ginkgo trees.

  • Joe M

    Ginkos are great city trees. They are extremely hardy and will live longer lives as street trees than many other species. The only problem is that when you plant one, you can’t tell if it is a male or female tree. The fruit doesn’t show up on the female tree until it is about 15 years old. I think ginkos have a beautiful form and beautiful leaves.

  • This is so depressing. People unwilling to tolerate .05% inconvenience for 99.5% beauty.

  • I think they’re quite pretty, but so are many other trees that don’t produce the awful fruit. Not only does it stink, but it falls in huge bunches which are not swept often enough…so if you live on a street like Corcoran (where I used to) it’s basically like crushing stinky grapes on your way to work each morning. I for one will not miss that aspect of the neighborhood.

  • Gingko trees are beautiful but I admit I wouldn’t want to live on a block of female fruiting trees. They are still very commonly planted though, but these days nurseries sell only male trees that don’t produce any fruit. So no need to worry about gingkos planted now. I imagine if you have a diseased gingko tree that produces stinky fruit, you could request it be replaced by a male gingko.


Subscribe to our mailing list