2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Minnesotan On Misson To Cover State With Ginkgo Trees
"My goal is to make the ginkgo tree affordable for every family," he says. He plans to grow 100,000 trees himself.
It's an ambitious goal, since it takes at least three years to get them to a transplantable size and they grow slowly at first. But ginkgo trees have so many good qualities that he believes they're worth the effort.
"In China, some trees are several hundred years old," he says. "They're called a living fossil because they survived the Ice Age." In addition, Ginkgo leaves are used to treat disorders associated with aging.
Besides its longevity, the Ginkgo tree is a hardwood tree that provides good shade, is disease-free and, it's beautiful, with bright green fan-shaped leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall.
The variety is not new to the U.S. Missionaries returning from China in the 1800's brought Ginkgo trees with them, and they're common in some parts of the country.
Hung earned a degree in horticulture in China before moving to the U.S. in 1985. After a successful career in the restaurant business, he bought eight acres near Madelia, Minn. Following two unsuccessful and expensive attempts to import large quantities of transplantable Ginkgo trees from China, he imported 350 grafted tree roots and seeds.
Ginkgo trees have both male and female parts. In Minnesota, it's against the law to knowingly plant female Ginkgos in public areas, Hung explains, because they produce seeds that look similar to walnuts, but stink when they rot. By grafting male branches onto root stock, Hung's Ginkgo trees won't produce seeds. Most nurseries that currently sell Ginkgo trees don't guarantee that they're male trees, he notes. Seeds don't appear for 50 years.
It's a slow process. As he plants, grafts and waits for his ginkgo trees to grow, he makes a living growing and shaping bonsai trees and growing Asian vegetables for area restaurants and Asian markets.
His dream of seeing Ginkgo trees across his state motivates him. He started with the idea of lining boulevards, but now that he has moved to the country, he believes the 40 to 70-ft. tall trees would be perfect for windbreaks, too. The Ginkgo would add value, he says, because some day they could be harvested for their valuable wood.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kun Hung, Exotic Flora, 31830 770th Ave., Madelia, Minn. 56062 (ph 507 642-2222; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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