Tree of the Week Theme: COLOR! Dawn Redwood, also known as Metasequoia glyptostroboides, are aesthetically pleasing as well as impressive trees. They are apart of the Taxodiaceae (redwood) family. The genus name comes from the Greek word meta (meaning together or near) and Sequoia because of botanical similarities with the Giant Sequoia and Redwood. Dawn Redwoods are the only species in this Genus. The dawn redwood is relatively carefree and also fast growing, usually to a height varying from 70-100’, but some even surpass 100’ and continue until they are 120’ or even higher! At maturity its’ spread is 25’ and has a pyramidal form. The dawn redwood can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–8 putting Worcester at the northern edge of its range. The Dawn Redwood doesn’t require much maintenance but it does thrive in open spaces. It features fine and feathery leaves, which are bright green in color. The leaves are opposite in arrangement, and look like feathery evergreen needles, about 2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide. The bark is a reddish brown color when young but become darker when older. The Dawn Redwood produces cones that are about ¾–1¾” long in size. They shed their leaves and slender twigs annually. The dawn redwood is a monoecious species, meaning the male and female reproductive organs are produced on the same tree. Like other conifers, the dawn redwood produces pollen and ovules inside separate male and female cones. Pollen is transferred to the female cones by wind, which initiates pollination. Small, winged seeds develop inside the cone, that split when ripe, and allow wind to disperse the seeds. Like the Gingko tree, the Dawn Redwood is considered a living fossil. Some fossils of these trees date back to the time dinosaurs walked the Earth. Many presumed that the Dawn Redwood was extinct for 20 million years until it was found thriving in a rural mountain area of China. When dinosaurs roamed the earth, it is believed that trees in the Redwood family were very abundant. Today, only 9 genera and 15 species exist. Dawn redwood was one of those known only as a fossil until 1941, when it was discovered growing in a remote valley of the Szechwan province of China. Seeds were collected by the Arnold Arboretum in 1947, and since then the species has been distributed worldwide. This tree isn’t only known for its’ ancient pedigree; it is also known for the brilliant colors it turns in the fall. The dawn redwood is a deciduous conifer and its’ leaves turn a beautiful yellow to golden russet color before falling from the tree exposing the papery, red strips of bark on the trunk throughout the winter. Trees with attractive bark or fruit that persists through the winter are said to have 4 seasons of interest and with the colorful bark, unique form, and beautiful foliage that turns color in the fall the Dawn Redwood certainly makes the mark.