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April 9, 2010

Dawn Redwood is an ancient deciduous conifer and has a fascinating history


Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) is a fast-growing, deciduous tree. For years it was thought to be extinct although at one time it grew all over the Northern Hemisphere. It is native to the Sichuan region of China. Dawn Redwood was first described as a fossil from the Mesozoic Era in China in 1941, but in 1944 a small stand of these trees was discovered still living. They were not studied until after World War II. In 1948 the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University sent an expedition to collect seeds and, soon after, seedling trees were distributed to various universities and arboreta worldwide for growth trials. Local villagers referred to the original tree from which most others derive as Shui-sa, or "water fir," which is part of a local shrine. Since that tree's rediscovery, the Dawn Redwood has become a popular ornamental.

While the bark and foliage are similar to another closely related redwoods it differs from the California redwood in that it is deciduous. In the fall it's leaves turn red brown and then fall, leaving a decorative silhoutte for the winter. One of the reasons it has become so popular as an ornamental is that it is a fast-growing tree to as high as 200 ft. tall and four feet trunk diameter in cultivation. It likes moist well drained soil and obviously it needs a lot of room to grow. It does not like alkaline soils.

I'm going to order one of the Dawn Redwoods. I missed a sale on them at Home Depot. I have too often bought a plant on impulse and brought it home to then desparately create a place to plant it. I didn't want to do that to this tree. I'm going to make a nice big hole and fill it with some compost and have the drippers ready to go. I like the idea of having something growing that was alive and flourishing when the dinasaurs were roaming the land. And I want it to thrive!

At Dawn redwood

If you don't have room for a 200 ft tree, you can always get a bonsai.

At Bonsai Tree

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at April 9, 2010 8:20 AM
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