Sunday, 6 April 2008

Ginkgo Biloba

I've always wondered how to pronounce ginkgo biloba and have finally looked it up. Ginkgo comes from the Chinese (and later Japanese) ginkyo meaning silver (gin) apricot (kyo). In Japanese this would be pronounced geen kyoh. Engelbert Kaempfer, responsible for the current awkward spelling as written in his "Amoenitates Exoticae", unfortunately made a mistake by writing kgo instead of kyo when making his notes in Japan. The current accepted pronunciation is GINK-oh.

Biloba (pronounced by-LOH-ba) comes from the Latin for two-lobed (bi from Latin "bis" meaning double, loba meaning lobes), the leaf being fan-shaped with a split in the middle.

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