Metasequoia glyptostroboides - Dawn redwood

Origin and Distribution

Metasequoia’s origin areas are the humid mountain forests of China. It is considered to be a living fossil of which only a few natural populations are left over. Those can be found only in inaccessible mountain regions. However, in the cretaceous period Metasequoia was spread almost on the entire northern hemisphere.
Since its discovery Metasequoia has been used as an ornamental tree.


The dawn redwood has a regular cone-shape and grows very quickly. It can reach a height of 40 meters and a width of 10 meters. The trunk is growing upright all way from the base up to the top of the tree. Young shoots have a red-brownish coloured bark, which turns into grey when getting older. Metasequoia is a deciduous conifer with a yellow to red-brownish colouring in autumn. The needles will drop down together with the shorter sprouts, which have a length of up to 20 cm. Metasequoia is coloured in an outstanding bright fresh green in spring and summer. The blossom is rather inconspicuous and afterwards the tree develops small, egg-shaped or round cones.

Metasequoia prefers sunny to semi-shady locations with nutritious moist soils, but can also handle dryer soils. It is very robust and resistant and can deal with frost as well as with special climate conditions in cities or even flooding for a certain time.

Interesting Facts

The dawn redwood tree was discovered very late. After being found and described as a fossil species in tertiary deposits in 1940, living trees were found in China one year later. The species Metasequoia glyptostroboides survived as the only one of its genus.
There is a strong similarity between dawn redwood and the also deciduous swamp cypresses (Taxodium). In contrast to them, Metasequoia’s needles are arranged oppositely. Also the dawn redwood doesn´t grow any knee roots.

Garden Design

The dawn redwood is a very interesting and special conifer. It is a highlight in expansive gardens and parkways that can be planted as a specimen tree or in small groups. When the tree is cut frequently it can also be cultivated as a higher hedge. Because of its narrow and regular cone-shape, the redwood can also be planted along avenues.