Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba ‘Princeton Sentry’

Description & Overview

This Urban Approved cultivar is perfect for the backyard of an urban home. With its tall, yet columnar form and low maintenance habit, Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo is a great choice for a tree with unique fan-shape foliage and spectacular fall appeal. Use of this tree varies depending on location, but Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo comes from a family of plants known for their hardiness and longevity. Don’t you want a living fossil in your yard? May also be known as Maidenhair Tree.

Core Characteristics

Wisconsin Native: No – Introduced
Mature Height: 40-50 feet
Mature Spread: 15-20 feet
Growth Rate: Slow
Growth Form: Symmetrical, Columnar, Upright
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Tolerant of many soil textures and moisture levels
Flower: Insignificant, green
Bloom Period: April
Foliage: Medium green, fan shaped
Fall Color: Vibrant yellow
Fruit Notes: Fruitless (male)

Suggested Uses:

Use Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo in a multitude of spaces, including those narrow areas where you need an upright statement tree to create some shade. Tolerant of compact soil, clay, or loam, it’s an easy tree for a variety of site conditions. Great for a narrow space that needs a vertical accent or creating shade in a smaller yard. Use in boulevards as a mass planting to create an elegant, structured look. Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo also works spectacularly in a mixed screen.

For a similar, but wider shade tree, look at Autumn Gold™ Ginkgo.

Salable #25 Container trees. Pictures taken late August.

Wildlife Value:

Little to no wildlife value as Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo is a seedless (male) cultivar, so it does not attract birds. The female Ginkgo produces a fruit that is known to bring an unpleasant smell with it, making it industry standard to sell male cultivars.

Additionally, it is deer resistant.

Maintenance Tips:

Site Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo in a full sun location when available, and part shade when necessary. Initially, Ginkgo may grow slowly in the landscape but it will pick up later with a proper water supply. It’s suitable in a variety of soils ranging from sand and loam to heavy clay. However, don’t plant it in a poorly drained location. We recommend a 2-3” deep mulch ring around newly planted trees. Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo requires little to no pruning to attain a strong branch structure. Ginkgos are known to transplant easily.


Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo doesn’t have any significant pests or problems. As a practically pest-free tree with storm damage resistance, you can’t go wrong with the Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo. It’s resistant to gypsy moth, and non-susceptible to Verticillium Wilt.

Princeton Sentry® is a slow-growing tree, which in youth can look somewhat sparse. The branching structure will fill out in time. This adds to its unique “rick-rack” look during winter.

Leaf Lore:

Ginkgo trees are a living fossil, with leaf impressions dating back 270 million years! It’s also a readily available medicine throughout the world. Many species of tree claim to be resilient, but how many can say their species has survived an Atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima? Roughly 170 Ginkgo biloba survived the blast in 1945. Talk about a living legend! A true symbol of longevity, this tree will most likely outlive generations to come. A single Ginkgo tree can live for over 1,000 years.

In the fall, you may notice your Ginkgo’s leaves drop dramatically, all at once. Why is this? As colder weather comes, common deciduous trees like maples often lose their leaves over the course of a few weeks. The process of a tree losing its leaves it a little more complex than you may think, the stems of leaves on these trees are called petioles. Petioles produce a layer of protective cells to protect trees from diseases that could enter as the leaves drop. This process typically takes place over a period of several weeks as temperature decreases. On a Ginkgo tree, the petioles form this layer of scar-like cells simultaneously and once a hard frost comes it triggers all leaves to drop at once, creating a lovely golden carpet around the base of your tree. Often, a true sign that fall has arrived.

Ginkgo biloba was previously classified in the Pinophyta division (phylum), which encompasses all cone-bearing plants commonly referred to as Conifers. Ginkgo biloba is now classified in its own division, Ginkgophyta, but it is still a gymnosperm (meaning ‘naked seed’) and is closely related to other prehistoric plants like Evergreens and Cycads.

Companion Plants:

Pair Princeton Sentry® Ginkgo with part shade perennials and shrubs such as Periwinkle (Vinca minor) groundcover, Japanese Forest Grass, Citronelle or Fire Alarm Coralbells, and Gro-low Sumac. Narrow upright shrubs make great companions in a screening, or small space- try Fine Line™ Buckthorn or Black Tower Elderberry for a contrasting affect.

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