From Hiroshima to San Diego, A Symbol of Hope and Peace Grows in a Ginkgo Survivor Tree Seedling

From Hiroshima to San Diego, A Symbol of Hope and Peace Grows in a Ginkgo Survivor Tree SeedlingSource: Unsplash / Chris Wong
Roma Chang
Published on July 28, 2023

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 left behind immense devastation and loss of life, but in a sign of resilience and hope amidst the tragic destruction, a seedling grown from a Hiroshima survivor ginkgo tree takes root at the San Diego Botanic Garden. This ginkgo sapling came from a tree that miraculously survived the bombing of Hiroshima 78 years ago, and now thrives as a symbol of peace and healing.

To commemorate the planting of this survivor tree sapling, the San Diego Botanic Garden will host the Survivor Tree Commemoration on August 5 at 4:15 p.m. PST. This event, in partnership with the Green Legacy Hiroshima (GLH) Initiative, aligns with the exact time the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. A range of activities, such as guest speakers, leaf rubbing, and community wish-writing, are scheduled for attendees to participate in.

The GLH Initiative is an international campaign aimed at spreading the messages of caution and hope represented by Hiroshima's survivor trees, known in Japanese as "Hibakujumoku." These trees bring awareness to the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and demonstrate the resilience of nature and the human spirit. Seeds and saplings from the A-bombed trees are currently growing in over 40 countries as part of a long-term campaign toward a nuclear-free planet.

San Diego Botanic Garden received its ginkgo seedling from Japan's Shukkeien garden in 2020 and planted it in June 2023. Ari Novy, Ph.D., the garden's President and CEO, said, "If trees can survive such an event, and their progeny can be shared across the world, there’s clearly so much we can do together to make the world a better place for people and plants." Novy was part of a select group invited by GLH to visit Hiroshima in November to witness survivor trees and help gather seeds for preservation and growth.

Ginkgo biloba, or the Maidenhair Tree, is one of the oldest living tree species in the world and is often referred to as a living fossil due to its ancient lineage dating back to a time before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It belongs to a small order of trees known as Ginkgoales (division Ginkgophyta), most of which have only been found as fossils of leaves resembling those of present-day ginkgo trees. These dioecious plants bear either male or female flowers, needing their opposite to reproduce. It may take several decades for the San Diego Botanic Garden to determine the sex of the newly planted ginkgo tree, but regardless, it serves as a hopeful symbol of peace and resilience, inspiring future generations.

The Survivor Tree Commemoration event is open to the public, with select portions of the garden accessible until 6 p.m. and the last entry at 4:30 p.m. As a symbol of peace and a powerful example of nature's resilience, this survivor tree sapling invites the world to remember the past and work together towards a safer, more harmonious future.