Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba; in Chinese and Japanese 銀杏, pinyin romanization: yín xìng, Hepburn romanization: ichō or ginnan), also spelled gingko and known as the maidenhair tree, is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The ginkgo is a living fossil, recognisably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a food.
Ginkgo is a genus of highly unusual non-flowering plants, commonly called ginkgo, with one living species, G. biloba. The most recently described extinct species (fossil) is Ginkgo huolinhensis.
The Ginkgoaceae is a family of gymnosperms which appeared during the Mesozoic Era, of which the only extant representative is Ginkgo biloba, which is for this reason sometimes regarded as a living fossil. Formerly, however, there were several other genera, and forests of ginkgo existed. Because leaves can take such diverse forms within a single species, these are a poor measure of diversity, but wood structure points to the existence of diverse ginkgo forests in ancient times.