2016

 
 

Dawn redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides, is a fast growing tree in the Cypress family native to China. Together with the Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), both of which are North American natives, Metasequoia is classified in the subfamily Sequoioideae.

Metasequoia was one of the most widespread tree species in the Northern hemisphere during the Tertiary period and fossils have even been found in Greenland and Norway, dating from the super continent era. The species was discovered in 1941 when Shigeru Miki of Japan was reclassifying fossil remains that had been incorrectly classified as Giant sequoia and Bald cypress. Due to its resemblance to the North American Coast redwood, Miki named the tree species Metasequoia, which means "almost a sequoia" and paleobotanists think this species is the ancestor of the present day Coast redwood. Thus, at that time, Metasequoia was only known as a fossil species, extinct for millions of years. Then in late autumn of 1947, T. Kan, a Chinese forester of Beijing National Central University, found three strange deciduous trees he had never seen before. During a following expedition many more trees were found, thriving in a remote area in Southwest China. Then in 1948 it was discovered that the newly discovered species belonged to the already described fossil genus Metasequoia. All of which explains why the Metasequoia is called the Living fossil tree.  The Arnold arboretum dispatched an expedition at that time to collect seeds and now, after a 15 million year hiatus, Metasequoia, or Dawn redwood, is once again growing in North America and Europe.

The foliage of this deciduous conifer is very similar to that other well-known deciduous conifer, the North American Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). These are soft "needles", feathery to the touch and emerald green, turning a rich burnished copper in fall. The cinnamon orange bark is quite beautiful and, also like the American Bald Cypress, forms wide buttresses on the lower trunk and if grown in or near water can even produce growths similar to cypress "knees".

This is an architectural tree – strong in form, bold in color. It has a fine texture, straight trunk and, eventually, broad spreading crown. It may, in time, grow larger than many modern gardens can accommodate but if you have room, it will be an impressive and dominant addition to your landscape. It is also fast-growing tree will reach 90 feet tall. And though it is the ideal specimen tree it also produces a wonderful effect when grouped or lined along a drive.

Metasequoia now thrives across Australia, New Zealand, Lower Canada, the US and the UK. It's is quite drought tolerant once established but will grow fastest in constant moisture.

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Metasequoia

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