Hubbard Ginkgo

Historical Period: Frontier Texas (1865-1900)
Historical Topic: Odds & Ends
Species: Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
County: Smith
Public Access: Yes

On the lawn of the city hall in Tyler stands this immense Ginkgo biloba, which was brought from Japan by Ambassador Richard Bennett Hubbard. It was planted in Tyler in 1889.

The Ginkgo is a living fossil—the only living member of the Ginkgoaceae family of plants, which otherwise became extinct in early geological times. The tree, which is considered sacred in Japan, was introduced from China by Buddhist priests and was planted around their temples.

The beautiful Hubbard Ginkgo is a male tree and produces no fruit. It is about 80 feet tall and, except for a large scar on one side, caused by a stroke of lightning years ago, appears to be in good health.

Hubbard brought two of these seedling trees to Texas in 1889. He planted one on the lawn of the governor’s mansion in Austin and gave the other to an intimate friend, Colonel John H. Brown of Tyler, who planted it in the front yard of his home. The Brown property was later acquired by the city of Tyler as the location for its city hall.

This unusual tree with its fan-shaped leaves is located near the southeast corner of the City Hall lawn, in Tyler.