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Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Dawn Redwood - Summer Dawn Redwood - Fall Dawn Redwood is a deciduous conifer with flat, needle-like leaves that turn a copper-colored brown in November. A specimen of this tree, planted in 1965, can be seen in the Arboretum’s Central China Collection near the end of Marsh Road. Dawn Redwood is related to Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) of the southeastern U.S. and to California’s Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

Dawn Redwood Leaves In the early 1940s, a Chinese paleobotantist recognized that fossils initially thought to belong to the genus Sequoia, should be reassigned to a new genus, Metasequoia. In 1945, living individuals of Metasequoia glyptostroboides were found in the Sichuan Province of China. Extensive field surveys in the late 1940s found this “living fossil” present in limited populations in both Sichuan Province and neighboring Hubei Province. Propagation of seeds and cuttings at arboreta in the U.S. and elsewhere resulted in Dawn Redwood becoming available for planting. Although Dawn Redwood does not have wide-spread commercial value, its lumber is similar to that of Coastal Redwood and has been used to make furniture as well as pulp for making plyboard and composite materials.

Dawn Redwood Pollen Cones Dawn Redwood Trunk Metasequoia is a fast growing tree — some of the oldest U.S. trees (planted in 1948) have attained diameters of over 1 meter. Dawn Redwood can be distinguished from Bald Cypress by several characteristics — the buds develop on the underside of the branches not along the tops; the leaves are opposite, not alternate; the base of the trunk is fluted and buttressed; and the branches have rounded depressions below their junction with the trunk. The light brown pollen cones are borne on long stalks appearing in early spring; the inconspicuous female cones are borne singly.

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