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The Tree That Survived the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima

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One of the A-bomb trees that survived

One of the A-bomb trees that survived

The Gingko at near ground zero 1945

The Gingko at near ground zero 1945

The two cities that received the first nuclear bomb attacks prevented the planned invasion of Japan by American forces called Operation Olympic. A massive assault on the southern section in the summer of 1945. America did not want more bloody fighting with the Japanese soldier who were devout in defending their homeland (much like the Ukrainians are today against Russia's invasion). Luckily, these two bombs prevented even more blood and death and while everything had been destroyed beyond recognition, the Ginkgo trees survived.

The Great Ginkgo

The Ginkgo tree is nature's greatest survivor. Dating back to over 40 million years ago, fossils of the tree have been found. They thrived during the dinosaur age and then survived during the ice age when most living things died. The tree learned to adapt itself to any environmental, soil, or weather conditions when planted in less than their ideal situations.

In August, 1945, on a warm and beautiful day, the Gingko trees of Japan, some 16,000 of them, were lush with their angelic-like leaves of bright green. At Hiroshima, the nearest Gingko was just 2200 yards (just over a mile) from the impact zone of the nuclear bomb. While all humans were vaporized and killed within the range, of all the trees in that area, only the Gingko would survive the radiation, burning of the outer bark, the alien-like environment afterwards that lasted weeks.

Despite the tree's bark being scorched, its roots of a mature tree went deep into the ground and the tree's evolution through millions of years had developed small cylinder's of life by compartmentalizing sections of living cells within. This would allow the tree to survive even the most harsh environments throughout time. The tree's structure has several layers of protection:

  1. The tough outer bark made of dead cells that is very hard
  2. The Phloem is under and carries nutrients
  3. The Xylem is under the #2 and produces wood layers
  4. The Cambium is close to the core and gives the tree life
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The tree's hard, tough, outer bark apparently was able to withstand mankind's diabolical weapon - the nuclear bomb. So much so, that the Cambium did not die from the blast.

From August 1945 until April 1946, as Hiroshima slowly cleaned up and came back to life, despite radiation being high and dangerous to humans, the Gingko trees began to bud again, shooting out their bright green leaves to add color to the now razed burnt environment. It was not just one such tree that survived but 170 came back to life in the area! The local Japanese looked at the tree as a miracle and have since called it hibakujumoku, or the A-bomb tree.

The moral of the story is that for a gardener, if you need a beautiful tree that provides shade and stunning foliage and can survive nearly any type of soil or climate (barring the arctic), plant a Gingko tree.

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