Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a fast-growing, deciduous tree and is considered the ancestor of all redwoods. Dawn Redwood is one of three species of conifers known as redwoods. The other two redwood species are the California Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). It is native to China where it grows to 200 feet or more in height. It is known as a living fossil because it was thought extinct until its discovery in China in 1944. In 1948 the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States sent an expedition to collect seeds and, soon after, seedling trees were distributed to various universities and arboreta worldwide for growth trials. The Arboretum Tome in Los Lunas, New Mexico maintains 33 different seed lines or representatives of the Dawn Redwood on its grounds.
Dawn redwood is often confused with the Texas Redwood or bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). One easy way to differentiate between the two is the needles or leaflets on Dawn Redwood are opposite, meaning directly across from each other, while on the Texas Redwood and the Native New Mexico Redwood (Taxodium mucronatum (neomexicana)) the needles are alternate (staggered).
If water is not limiting, the Dawn Redwood can grow 4′ per year ultimately reaching 60′ – 70’ tall and 25′ wide. Prior to leaf drop each autumn, leaf color changes to an intense orangish-red. Growth form is pyramidal. It is not a drought tolerant tree so does best with regular water. It is hardy to USDA Zone 4. Trees That Please Nursery has the Dawn Redwood available in both 5 and 15 gallon container sizes.