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Dawn RedwoodMetasequoia glyptostroboides

  • Dawn Redwood - Metasequoia glyptostroboides

This is an impressive tree by any standard. Of special note is that fossils in northern parts of the United States show that the dawn redwood knew the dinosaurs. It was long thought to be extinct—until it was discovered alive and well in a rural, mountainous area of China.

The dawn redwood is relatively carefree and also fast growing, with one specimen in Virginia having reached 120 feet in 30 years! While the tree’s natural range is an area of only about 232 square miles in China, it has been planted successfully around the world.

Hardiness Zones

The dawn redwood can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–8. View Map

Tree Type

This is a shade tree, featuring a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight.

Mature Size

The dawn redwood grows to a height of 70–100' and a spread of around 25' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The dawn redwood is very versatile—growing in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils. While it prefers moist conditions, the tree can withstand some flooding and has some drought tolerance.


This tree:
  • Doesn't require much maintenance.
  • Thrives in larger spaces.
  • Features fine and feathery leaves, bright green in color, opposite in arrangement, flattened and about 1/2" long and 1/16" wide.
  • Produces rounded cones about ¾–1¾" long.
  • Sheds leaves and slender twigs annually.
  • Tolerates pollution.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape.

Wildlife Value

This tree provides winter cover for birds, small mammals and deer.


The dawn redwood is a living testimony to the surprises still to be found in nature. 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 the species has been distributed worldwide.