Family: Taxodiaceae
Common Name: Dawn Redwood

The single species in this genus of conifers is extraordinary as it was known from fossil remains before it was discovered in a valley in Central China in 1945. The survival of this once widespread genus in one discrete area makes it truly a 'living fossil'. Dawn redwood is now one of the more popular conifers because of its ornamental qualities, rapid growth, tolerance of a wide range of conditions and general hardiness.


M. glyptostroboides, the only species, has fresh green, fern-like foliage, like that of the redwood. In cooler climates, the leaves turn a yellowish bronze colour in autumn. It is a deciduous tree which sheds whole hranchlets rather than single leaves. The bark of young trees is a rich reddish-brown, which peels off in thin flakes and becomes grayish brown and fibrous with age. Metasequoia generally has an erect, tapering growth habit, with large numbers of small, rather contorted side branches. It grows to between 20 and 40 m (65-130 ft), depending on conditions and climate, and produces cones after about 15 years.


To achieve an attractive shape, plant in deep, reasonably fertile soil and give protection from winds. If abundant water is supplied to the roots, it will grow vigorously, although it does quite well even on a normal, well-drained site. It enjoys cold climates, but cannot tolerate unseasonal spring frosts. Propagate from seed sown outdoors in autumn. Alternatively, propagate from semi-ripe cuttings in summer or from hardwood cuttings in winter, under glass with basal warmth.


Zone 5.

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