Dawn redwood is a very large deciduous conifer with bright green feathery foliage.Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs
Leaves are flattened, soft needles, borne on green shoots.Read more about Leaves
Pollen cones are tiny, green and inconspicuous, borne in long, dense clusters.Read more about Pollen cones
Single, small, oval or rounded seed cones dangle on long stalks.Read more about Seed cones
Growing up to 35 m (115') or more high and 200 cm (6.5') in diameter, dawn redwood develops a broad rounded or flat-topped crown with age.
Leaves are soft flattened needles, 2 - 3 cm (3/4" - 1") long, borne on green shoots each holding about 25 - 30 needles in a flat plane.
Seed cones are oval to round, 2 - 2.5 cm (3/4" - 1") long. Green when young, they hang singly on stalks 1 - 7 cm (1/3" - 2 3/4") long.
Mature seed cones are woody and the scales separtate to release the seed. They may remain on the tree for a year after seed is shed.
The genus Metasequoia was originally described in 1941 from fossil material; at the time it was thought that all the species in the genus were extinct. However, shortly after, a small population of living trees was discovered by scientists in a remote region of China and by 1948, dawn redwood seeds had been distributed to botanical gardens throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. Today, dawn redwood is widely cultivated.
Dawn redwood is the last known living species of Metasequoia, and is therefore called a living fossil. It is critically endangered in the wild due to deforestation and development in its natural range. Today, very large specimens, thought to be at least 400 years old, are protected, but natural regeneration in the wild is poor.
Derivation of names
The genus name, Metasequoia, is from the Greek work meta, meaning together or near, and sequoia, the name of a closely related North American conifer. The species name, glyptostroboides, means resembling Glyptostrobus, a related genus of conifers.
Dawn redwood is one of the few conifers that are deciduous, dropping their needles every year. Its opposite branching pattern is also unique among the conifers.
Dawn redwood's place in Toronto's urban forestDawn redwood can be seen as a specimen tree in parks and cemeteries throughout the city. It is increasingly available in nurseries and more young trees are now being planted. Its form is very neat and its feathery foliage provides an interesting and attractive component of the urban forest.
Landscape value and potential for home planting
Dawn redwood is a fast-growing tree that can reach about 15 m (50') after only 15 to 20 years. It can grow to a very large size, so it is not suitable for small spaces.
Despite the fact that winter temperatures in its native habitat usually hover around 0 degrees C, dawn redwood has proved to be amenable to cold North American winters. It prefers moist, deep soils that are slightly acidic, and grows best in sunny sites.
Pests and diseases: Dawn redwood is not known to be particularly susceptible to any disease or pest, although some specimens in North America have died as a result of canker infestations. Japanese beetles may feed on the foliage.
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