Dawn Redwood identification

The Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides is a conifer that was only re-discovered in central China in 1941. It was known from the fossil record but was thought to be extinct. It is one of the World’s most endangered trees. It was introduced to Britain in 1948 and has since been planted in many parks and gardens in warmer regions. It grows best next to water. It is one of the few deciduous conifers. Dawn Redwood identification is by its opposite, deciduous leaves, small cones and red stringy bark. It is most likely to be confused with the Swamp Cypress but the shoots and leaves are ‘opposite’ not ‘alternate’. Also its cones are quite different.

The Dawn Redwood, the Coast Redwood and the Giant Sequoia (sometimes called the Sierra Redwood) are all related. They are relics from a period 100 million years ago when they were widespread. They now have very restricted natural distributions – the Dawn Redwood to central China and the other two to California.

Dawn Redwood trees in summer

The Dawn Redwood is green (in leaf) in April. The Swamp Cypress is not green until May.

Dawn Redwood trees in November

Dawn Redwood trees in November.

Dawn Redwood opposite leaves and shoots

The leaves are in opposite pairs on shoots that are in opposite pairs. The leaves and shoots on the Swamp Cypress are alternate.

 Dawn Redwood bark

The bark of the Dawn Redwood is red and stringy.

Dawn Redwood cone

An old cone on the ground after shedding seed. The cones are rarely seen in Britain.

Tree in December

Dawn Redwood buds in winter

Buds in winter are opposite, small and red.

Tree in February with cones and male catkins