Dawn Redwood

Scientific Name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Family Name: Taxodiaceae

Leaves: Feathery, deciduous needles 1 in. (2.5 cm.) long, in two flattened rows. The needles are green to yellow in the spring, in the fall, they turn orange and brown, and in the winter, the tree sheds them.

Tree: 50 – 100 ft. (15 – 30 m.) tall, with the bark peeling in long strips. When it is young, it has reddish brown bark, and as it ages, the bark turns to gray. The tree branches grow down to the ground, giving it an extremely full appearance.

Fruit: ½ - 1 in. (1.2 – 2.5 cm.) long boxy cones, which hang from a long stem.

Identifying Characteristics: The deciduous nature of the Dawn Redwood identifies it from most other coniferous trees. The featherlike short flattened needles can also be used to distinguish Dawn Redwood from other trees.

Location: On the Brandeis University campus, there is a young, planted, ornamental Dawn Redwood growing between the Shapiro Campus Center and the Bernstein Marcus Building

History and Comments: Dawn Redwood is a tree from the age of the dinosaurs. Botanists assumed it had been extinct for 5 million years, but it was rediscovered in 1941, in Szechuan, China. Dawn Redwood saplings were exported all over the world, and in 1948, the first saplings reached the United States, where Dawn Redwood has become a popular ornamental tree. Dawn Redwood grows very quickly, and a tall tree is a majestic sight.

    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.