Want Your Stinky Ginkgo Tree Removed? Birmingham Will Now Help You
The city has declared the female species of Ginkgo trees a nuisance in Birmingham, and will begin removing the trees at residents' requests.
The residents on Hazel and Haynes can start breathing a little easier in the fall.
After months of complaining from residents on Birmingham's east side tired of their Ginkgo trees' foul-smelling fruit, the Department of Public Services (DPS) will now begin removing and replacing the trees at residents' request.
In a memo to the Birmingham City Commission addressed at their Oct. 29 meeting, DPS Director Lauren Wood said the female species of the Ginkgo tree — of which there are 28 on Hazel and Haynes — have been declared a nuisance and in accordance with the city's Tree Preservation Ordinance, are eligible for removal.
According to Wood, the Ginkgo trees in question are between 40-60 years old and are the female variety, which produce an odor-bearing fruit October through November. Currently, the city only approves the planting of male Ginkgo trees.
At the Sept. 24 city commission meeting, 36-year Birmingham resident Norman Kern presented a petition to commissioners signed by 16 residents, requesting the city treat the trees.
"The aroma from this fruit is commonly compared to dog feces or vomit," Kern said. "I wouldn't argue with either description. Our tree drops bushels of this smell onto our yards, sidewalks and streets each year. The smell gets on our cars as we drive to our homes and into our homes on the feet of our children and pets."
At that meeting, Wood agreed to arrange extra leaf pick-up and additional street sweeping on Hazel and Haynes during peak Ginkgo season, while also allowing residents to purchase Bill Goat Industrial Vacuums at the city's price, approximately $2,300-$3,000.
However last Monday, Wood said they could do even more.
"Despite the fact the Ginkgo trees are in very good condition ... the City Commission does hereby declare the female variety of Ginkgo trees along the streets of Hazel and Haynes to be a nuisance," Woods's memo reads.
Going forward, residents can now request the city remove their female Ginkgo tree, with the homeowner assuming all removal costs — around $350-$400 per tree. The city will pay for a replacement tree.
"This plan along with the required responsibilities has been vetted with the neighborhood spokesperson and it has been received positively," the memo reads.
Letters have been sent to all impacted homeowners, and even if residents choose not to remove their tree this year, the offer will continue indefinitely until all the female Gingko trees are gone. Depending on the timing of the request, tree removal will likely take place next spring or fall.