Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

The Dawn Redwood tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) 
is an unusual creature in the tree world - a deciduous conifer. 

That means it is cone-bearing and looks like an evergreen (its leaves are needles), but it turns color in fall and drops its needles (like a maple tree). There are only a handful of deciduous conifers in the whole world. This tree was once thought to be extinct, only being identified by fossil records. In 1944, it was officially discovered in China. But it was not spread to the rest of the world until after World War II.

My first encounter with this tree was at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA in 2009. I walked quickly with my then three-year-old Grace through their arboretum section, but was stopped in my tracks by this tree. This is one of the two large specimens that grow at Longwood.

View of its needles.
Just recently, I discovered that there are two younger trees planted outside of Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. During our long saunter around the outside gardens, my husband and I found these unmistakable trees at the end of their prairie-style planting in the front yard.

At Phipps Conservatory



I am pleased to have found these specimens closer to home so that I may observe them in the fall also.


Oh, to be a child again and climb up into these branches!


Dawn Redwood beside the entrance to Phipps, with a larger Grace running up to it.
Their mature size is estimated to be 130-150 feet tall and 6 feet trunk diameter. They may grow even larger than those estimates.

I would love to have the room for this amazing tree someday. But, I think it might look rather out of proportion for our corner lot right now... just maybe. 

12 comments:

  1. We had lots of these trees around our neighborhood in Santa Clara, CA. They did look really out of place with all the ranchers! I have to warn you that they are very messy - always dropping twigs all over the place. But the delicate 'leaves' and adorable cones are such a wonderful contrast to their huge size. Definitely a tree to love in another place besides your own home, ha!

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  2. Plant breeders need to develop a dwarf variety for the homeowner. Gorgeous photos.

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  3. Nice Pictures, I am happy because we plant 10 metaséquoia in ower park in belgium
    There are joung now.. but it is for de grant grant childeren..

    See noric.be, http://www.noric.be/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12%3Aconiferes&catid=2%3Aarboretum&Itemid=5&lang=fr

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  4. Holy mackerel! Incredible trees. The picture from 2009 looks like your daughter is on the set of a Lord of the Rings picture. Glorious!

    Bertie

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  5. Beautiful!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Jo-Ann

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  6. That top photo is priceless, and your little Grace (at both ages) is adorable. The Dawn Redwood tree looks so protective with Grace standing underneath it. Thanks for all the great info, too!

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  7. I love dawn redwoods, and they are pretty quick growing too.

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  9. Where in Longwood are these trees? I've had a membership for a few years now and have never seen them. Of course, I haven't been specifically looking for them either!

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    1. Longwood has one dawn redwood (that I know of) in the arboretum... if you are standing down in front of the pond looking up at the chime tower, and start to walk to the right, taking one of the first wooded paths up the hill to the tower, you will find it very quickly. Glad to help another tree lover!
      ~Julie

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  10. I think I have every cultivar available planted on my property. Here is a link to a dwarf cultivar that I purchased from Forest Farm.
    https://www.forestfarm.com/product.php?id=3049

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