Dawn redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides, is a fast growing tree in the Cypress family, Cupressaceae, along with the Redwood and the Giant Sequoia, and is native to China. It is the only surviving species in the ancient redwood genus Metasequoia, of which three fossil species are known. This tree once grew on the North American continent and was assumed to be extinct. However, an actual living specimen was discovered in China. Now, after a 15 million year hiatus, Dawn redwood is once again growing in Canada, the US and the UK.

While the bark and foliage are similar to the Redwood, Metasequoia differs from it in that it is deciduous like the American Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), and like that species, forms wide buttresses on the lower trunk and is a fast-growing tree to 90 feet tall.

For a tree that was once so impossibly rare there are now an amazing number of improved cultivars and one of these is Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Gold Rush'. Gold Rush, which has 5 inch soft, feathery leaves of an dazzling clear yellow, was found as a seedling in Japan and brought to Europe where it was renamed 'Gold Rush'. This golden leaved conifer keeps its coloring well into summer. It then turns orange-brown in fall, when it sheds all of its needles. In spring, the needles return as a bright chartreuse before going yellow again. The deep fissures of the bark are also interest, giving it winter interest. It thrives in many kinds of soil, permanently wet and heavy clays. This is an architectural tree – strong in form, bold in color with fine texture, straight trunk and broad spreading crown. It may eventually grow larger than many modern gardens can accommodate but is smaller than the species, growing to about 50 feet. If you have room, it would be a stunning and dominant addition to your garden. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.


Gold Rush dawn redwood

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