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Hiroshima tree
San Diego Botanic Garden staff plant a ginkgo tree descended from a mother tree that survived the Aug. 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Botanic Garden to dedicate Hiroshima tree offspring

ENCINITAS – The San Diego Botanic Garden has planted a ginkgo tree descended from a mother tree that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan nearly 80 years ago.

The garden has partnered with the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative to plant and dedicate the tree during a commemoration ceremony on Aug. 5 at 4:15 p.m., the local time here when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

When the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945 near the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and injured. The few who survived believed that nothing would grow in the cities for decades, however 170 trees in Hiroshima survived and are still growing 78 years later.

Hiroshima tree
The mother ginkgo tree in Hiroshima. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Known in Japanese as “hibakujumoku, these survivor trees bring awareness to the dangers of arms of mass destruction, and nuclear weapons in particular, as well as the sacred character of humankind and the resilience of nature.

Green Legacy Hiroshima is a global campaign aimed at spreading the universal messages of caution and hope that the survivor trees of Hiroshima represent. Currently, seeds and saplings from the A-bombed trees are growing in more than 40 countries in a sustained, long-term campaign, joining other efforts to establish a nuclear-free and more ecological planet.

The result of a multiyear partnership with Green Legacy Hiroshima, San Diego Botanic Garden received its ginkgo as a seedling from Shukkeien garden in Japan in 2020, and was recently planted at the garden site in June of this year.

Guest speakers and representatives from Green Legacy Hiroshima will be in attendance for the tree dedication. In addition, visitors are invited to take part in a community wish writing and leaf rubbing activity where they can express written or drawn representations of wishes for the future.

“The hibakujumoku have an amazing ability to simultaneously commemorate the devastation wrought by the bombing of Hiroshima and instill a profound sense of hope in the future. 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,” said Ari Novy, president of San Diego Botanic Garden. “We are honored to be part of this initiative and invite the community to join us in commemorating the history, legacy and symbol of peace that this beautiful tree represents.”

Novy was part of a select group of plant scientists and botanic garden experts invited by GLH to visit Hiroshima in November 2022. The scientists visited various sites of the survivor trees throughout the city and helped gather seeds to preserve and grow second-generation survivor trees around the world.

Hiroshima tree
The young ginkgo tree will be dedicated in a ceremony at the San Diego Botanic Garden on Aug. 5. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Often referred to as a living fossil, the ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the oldest living tree species with the ability to live up to 1,000 years. The planting symbolizes a hopeful opportunity to continue the lineage of survivor trees for hundreds, potentially thousands, of years to come.

Select portions of the garden will be accessible until 6 p.m. for this event, with the last entry at 4:30 p.m. It is recommended that visitors arrive before the event start time if they would like to visit the full garden.

For more information about San Diego Botanic Garden please visit the website at

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