The Dawn Redwood is one of North America’s oldest native trees, dating all the way back to the Mesozoic Era! Up until the 1940’s it was thought to be extinct and was only known through the fossil record until it was “rediscovered” in rural China in the 1940’s when a forestry official named Zhan Wang collected samples from a tree in the wild. He connected the dots between that living tree and what was seen in the fossil record. In 1948 the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University sent a team of botanists to collect seed and bring it back to the United States. Seedlings were then distributed to different universities and the dawn redwood has since been somewhat widely planted, though it deserves much wider distribution, hence why we are now carrying Dawn Redwoods!
This tree has a very special place in our hearts and we would love to see it planted more in the landscape. Plants are very adaptable and even make great street trees. Dawn Redwood can tolerate wet soils better than most conifers, though it would still prefer to have somewhat well draining soils, and the growth rate is very fast on these, growing to 30 feet very quickly and to at least 150 ft. in time. What’s even more unique is the Dawn Redwood is a deciduous conifer! So it actually drops its needles in fall after turning a beautiful golden yellow and then puts out new needles in the spring that are lime green, delicate and incredibly beautiful. On top of all that it makes one of the best climbing trees with its wide buttressed trunk and smooth arching limbs. Take a climb into the dawn redwood and let it take you back to the days when giant lizards roamed North America.
Latin Name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Site and Soil: Dawn Redwood prefers half to full sun and can tolerate a wide variety of soils.
Hardiness: Dawn Redwood is hardy to minus 20 or below.
Size at Maturity: 150-175 feet high.
Pests & Diseases: N/A
USDA Zone: 5-9