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How did Ginkgos from Toronto appear in Slovakia ?
Story by Dušan Kuchta, Martin)

In the year 1996 I used to fly as the A-310 aircraft captain of the Czech Airlines to Toronto in Canada. Besides my profession, I have already paid attention to an unusuall hobby - propagation and cultivation of Ginkgo biloba tree. In my free time - between two flights - I was looking for a possibility of obtaining the appropriate fruits. Ginkgo is a dioecious plant with male and female trees and it is necessary to find a suitably positioned pair of trees - as close as possible from each other. This usually ensures that seed fertilization occurs, what is the basic prerequisite for good germination. In Toronto I found a pair of divergent sex trees after a long searching in Moss Park, in front of a hockey club in Sherbourne St., between Shuter St. and Queen St -  see the map. Opposite the club - right across the street - there is the Salvation Army center.

 I used to go to this place during the summer of 1996 and I was watching ripening the fruits. In November I saw that they were already mature so I decided to pick them. I was afraid that when they fell off I would not be in Toronto. I reached a few fruits from the ground, but the others were too high up, so I found a plastic bottle in the dustbin, I started tossing it into the crown of the female tree and plucking the fruits down. Meanwhile, two young athletes came out of the club and when they saw what I was doing they objected very strongly that I devastated the trees in their private park. I explained them what I was doing, where I was from and why I needed the seeds. It was interesting for them so that one of them climbed up a tree and picked full plastic bag of seeds for me. They wished me good luck in the cultivation and we parted as friends. Both took a few seeds too in order to try them grow. After my farewell with the athletes a special phantom - weird guy - came close to me. He was a man, perhaps 2 m high, had an afro-haircut - dreadlocks up to the waist and a backpack. He was hidden behind the corner of the building and  was watching us whole time. All in all he looked clean, not as some homeless characters who quite smelt and were obviously drunk. This man, even if he was to see like some displaced person, was quite credible. He asked me what I would do with my seeds. He did not accept my explanation,  he tried to convince me the ginkgo fruits were not edible raw and caused allergy. He told me that across the street there was the Salvation Army center and that they could give us very good soup free of charge. However, we needed to register, but he would help me with it. I could not convince him that I did not need his help and that I was fully assured foreign tourist (I did not tell him, that I was the captain of ČA). He said, that he could tell that I was just beginner on the streets in this city. He apparently knew very well that the beginning was hard, winter was approaching and I needed to secure myself because I would not be able to survive. He offered to show me his dwelling as to be ready for the winter, and also would show me the place where I would be able to build a similar dwelling too.
 I could not get rid of him, he was still trying to convice me that I went to taste the soup and explained to me how important it was to have at least one hot meal a day in winter. I have already started to be worry because he kept inviting me to the park behind the hockey club building and wanted to show me his dwelling. He was trying to persuade me, that it was very convenient there, because I would be close to the building of the Salvation Army center where I could get some soup and sometimes there was even a possibility to sleep there. Finally, I was already so startled that I ended our friendship by a long “jogging“ away across at least two street blocks. I stopped running after I was assured that nobody was chasing me. Thanks God I managed to protect ginkgo seeds. Now they still grow as beautiful trees in Slovakia - see photo,

The Ginkgos from Toronto are doing well in Slovakia (Photo D. Kuchta, 2006)

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