Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a Chinese relative of the giant redwoods and sequoias that grow in California. Dawn redwood is slightly smaller than its huge American cousins, but can still grow up to 200 feet tall. Dawn redwood is unusual in that it is a deciduous conifer, losing its needles in winter and regrowing them again in spring. An older tree will form distinctive wide buttresses at its base and has a trunk that tapers toward the tip.
This species was originally known only from fossils. We thought it had been extinct for millions of years, but then some dawn redwoods were discovered growing in a small area of central China. The species is endangered in the wild in China because of over-harvesting and habitat destruction, which is made worse because the trees reproduce very slowly.
Luckily, several botanical gardens around the world are growing large conservation groves of this species to ensure dawn redwood will not go extinct.
What can you do? Support botanical gardens and arboreta that grow dawn redwood in their collections. You can think of an arboretum as a lifeboat for endangered trees!
Note: This dawn redwood marks the entrance to our exhibit Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat, which also highlights endangered trees from around the world. We encourage you to continue your tour of threatened trees by taking the wood-chipped trail through the Vanishing Acts exhibit. The loop will return you to this spot to continue this self-guided threatened tree tour.