The city this year had 1,000 of the trees injected with a chemical that was supposed to halt reproduction, The Washington Post reported. That did not work, and the ginkgo trees produced a heavier crop than normal.
Observers disagree about the smell -- whether it resembles unwashed diapers or vomit, for example. But there is a consensus that it is unpleasant.
"Uuuuugh. Uuuuugh," Christine Lombardi, a desk clerk at the Hotel George, which has a ginkgo by the front door, told the Post. "It's just awful because people step on it outside, and then they bring it inside the hotel, and people think somebody got sick."
The ginkgo biloba is a living fossil, the last surviving member of a genus that flourished during the Jurassic era. The gingkos in Washington were originally imported from central China.
In the suburbs, foresters plant only male ginkgos, which do not produce fruit. But the Washington trees are of mixed gender.
Surveyor J.L. Frink offered an interesting ginkgo tip. For those who can get past the smell, the fruit tastes good or at least nowhere near as bad as it smells.