Stinky, smelly gingko biloba fruit: What to do?

Maria Luna and Mark Bornfeld bobsey at
Mon Oct 25 19:44:49 EST 1999

I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem; perhaps someone can
offer a solution. I'm talking about a female ginkgo biloba tree that
drops its fruit all over the sidewalk in front of my house. The tree is
pretty, but that doesn't make up for the mess and smell, not to mention
the hazard to passers-by who may slip and fall on the slick pulpy
sidewalk. This is a VERY prolific tree, much more so than others in the

My natural reflex was to remove the tree, but the local authority (the
New York City Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Forestry Division) has
strict rules concerning the removal of trees on a public right of way
(my sidewalk). A tree may only (lawfully) be removed if it is totally
dead or if it poses a hazard to PROPERTY. When asked if the tree would
qualify for removal if it poses a threat to human life, a Parks Dept.
supervisor answered with a succinct "No". The hazard of a slick sidewalk
resulting from mashed ginkgo fruit pulp would be legally handled the
same way the hazard of dangerous ice or snow would be handled: the
homeowner has the responsibility to remove any hazardous condition, or
face any liability consequences.

So, I have been spending approximately 3 hours per week peeling the
adherent mess from the sidewalk with rubber gloves (the residue is not
amenable to sweeping or raking) for the past month. It appears that tree
removal is not an option. Can anyone out there suggest a solution? Is
there a chemical agent/hormone that can prevent the tree from fruiting?

                          --Mark Bornfeld
Maria Luna P.T. and Mark Bornfeld D.D.S.
Brooklyn, NY   718-258-5001

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