Ginkgo biloba

Comparison of Ginkgo biloba and Ginkgoites watsoniae

NPS Photo

The Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) belongs to an ancient order of plants (Ginkgoales). It is the only species in the world today, but at one time many species were found around the globe. They were first found in the fossil record about 290 million years ago. One of those extinct species was found here in the fossil deposits of the park. The plaza tree was planted in honor of its ancient cousin.

It hasn’t been long since a new species of fossil ginkgo, Ginkgoites watsoniae, was discovered from the Late Triassic Chinle Formation in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. G. watsoniae was discovered in the green mudstones of the Blue Mesa Member of the Chinle Formation that has yielded up so many fossil plant compressions. It is quite rare, but that may be due to the location where the trees grew in the Late Triassic, away from the edge of the watercourse’s edge so less chance for fossilization than plants closer to the water.

Upper photo features the fan shaped leaves of the only living species, Ginkgo biloba, that’s planted in the plaza outside the Painted Desert Visitor Center. The lower photo is the Late Triassic fossil ginkgo, Ginkgoites watsoniae.

Last updated: May 14, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Petrified Forest National Park
P.O. Box 2217

Petrified Forest, AZ 86028-2217


928 524-6228

Contact Us