DAWN REDWOOD is unusual among conifers in that it is deciduous. And the handsome pyramidal shape of a youngish tree with ascending branches, peeling, reddish-brown bark, and buttressed trunk is even more apparent in winter. This tree is closely related to California's coast redwood and giant sequoia, but does not grow as large or live as long.
Dawn redwood is native to China, and was at one time thought to be extinct until small populations in central China were rediscovered by a Chinese forester in the early 1940s. The Arnold Arboretum (Harvard University) acquired seeds, and many specimens now growing in the United States were derived from that stock. It is considered to be a living fossil, and risks extinction in its native range due to habitat destruction. However, it is widely planted in parks and arboreta throughout the world.
Read more about the rediscovery of dawn redwood here.
Coast redwood leaves above, dawn redwood leaves below. Both shed leaves with entire branchlet. Dawn redwood sheds all leaves in autumn.
Female strobili (seed cones) of coast redwood above and dawn redwood below.
Dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley
Buttressed trunk of great specimen at the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross, California
Male strobilii (pollen cones) in August