Why do the Trees Outside of Kyle Smell?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The trees on the Elm Avenue side of Kyle are Ginko biloba (maidenhair) trees. The fruit that covers the seed has the odor of butyric acid, which makes the tree smell like butter that has spoiled. Although the fruit produces a pungent odor, they are edible and a familiar ingredient in Chinese cooking. They taste like chestnuts.

These trees replaced the old sugar maples that had reached the end of their life and were beginning to break from internal rotting. The Arborteum decided to remove the old trees all at once and replant the area with entirely new, young trees.


  1. The problem is that the trees are the wrong sex; ginkos are dioecious, and if those trees were male like many other ginkos on campus they wouldn't smell.

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