59. Dawn Redwood

(Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Family: Cupressaceae


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East of the Guggenheim annex there is a Dawn Redwood, another living fossil like the ginko and the monkey puzzle tree. The genus Metasequoia was first discovered from a fossil in 1941. Then in 1944 a stand of previously unidentified trees was found in China and was discovered to be M. glyptostroboides.  This example probably dates from 1948 when the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University sent an expedition to collect seeds and distribute them to universities and arboreta worldwide for growth trials. 

This native of China's eastern Szechuan and NW Hupeh is famous for being the only non-extinct deciduous redwood, as well as for being an excellent ornamental conifer wherever room allows--it grows 200 feet (61 meters) tall and has a thick trunk. In winter its reddish, buttressed trunk is striking. The summer foliage is delicate green and then turns orange or brown in autumn before falling off. The root system of the dawn redwood is extensive and can be used to stabilize stream banks.


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