Dawn Redwood Growing Profile

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), March
Joshua McCullough/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Overview of Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwood is one of only a few deciduous conifers. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can make an excellent shade or street tree if the lot is large enough. This tree was given the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

  • Latin name: The botanical name for this species is Metasequoia glyptostroboides and it is part of the Cupressaceae family. It is the only remaining species in the genus.
  • Common Names: The name that you usually see associated with this tree is dawn redwood. It is sometimes also called metasequoia.
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: You can plant these in Zones 4-8, though it may have a harder time in the colder areas. It is native to China.
  • Size & Shape: The dawn redwood rapidly grows to 75-100' or taller and 15-25' wide with a pyramidal shape.
  • Exposure: This tree should be planted in full sun for best growth.

Foliage/ Flowers/Fruit

This species has opposite needles that are approximately .5" long. They turn shades of reds and browns in autumn before falling.

Male pollen cones are formed on chains and appear at the start of spring. The fruit is a 1" female oval cone, making this one of the deciduous conifers.

Design Tips

This is a large, fast-growing tree. If you have enough space for it, this works well as a shade or street tree. It is well suited to areas like parks, university campuses, and commercial landscapes also.

Growing Tips

Grow dawn redwood in moist, well-drained soil. It does not do well if grown in alkaline or dry soils. If your spot is somewhat alkaline, there are methods to make your soil acidic, though you may need to repeat this and the difficulty of changing the pH increases if it is quite alkaline.

This tree may have frost damage as it grows until late in the season and may be caught by early chills. Try to find a spot that can offer some shelter from the elements if possible.

Propagation is with stratified seeds and cuttings.

Maintenance/Pruning

Dawn redwood naturally forms into a pyramidal shape, so little pruning is needed besides the customary removal of dead, diseased and damaged branches.

Pests & Diseases

Japanese beetles and spider mites can be problems associated with this tree.

This tree generally does not have disease problems.

Additional Dawn Redwood Facts

Dawn redwood is often confused with common bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The needles on dawn redwood are opposite, meaning directly across from each other, while bald cypress is alternate (staggered).

Dawn redwood is considered a "living fossil". It dates from prehistoric times, and was thought to be extinct. However, it was discovered in China in 1941. Seeds were brought to North America, where it now grows again.