Dinosaur Food in Vauxhall

Fentiman Road, Vauxhall, hosts one example (above) of the amazing gingko tree - whose species has survived at least 240 million years, since before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Western scientists at first found only fossils of this primitive leaf, but living examples were found in the Far East in the late 1600s and seeds were then brought back to Europe.

Notice the leaf's simple shape and small size. It is easy to imagine how this species evolved from even more primitive vegetation, with a needle-like leaf slowly gathering more light as it spread out into a fan shape. It did not, however, evolve into the more complex tree forms that we see today:- these evolved separately from primitive flowers. The only other tree species to survive this long are the cycads and conifers.

Even if it is at a genetic dead end, the Gingko's longevity points to its other strength:- its ability to survive the most hostile of environments, including whatever wiped out the dinosaurs, and - in the case of a tree in Nagasaki, Japan - an atomic bomb blast only 1.1km away!

The gingko now has its own web site and can be found in most temperate locations around the world. Other local specimens can be found in Vauxhall Park, alongside the path between the fountain and Fentiman Road, and in Battersea Park.