Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Common name: 
Dawn Redwood
met-a-se-KWOY-a glip-to-stro-BOY-dez
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Deciduous conifer, 70-100 ft (21-30 m), excurrent, pyramidal, flat topped when mature.  Needles are arranged in opposite pairs, each is about 15 mm long, straight or slightly curved, bright green above, light green below.  Bark reddish brown when young, darker, fissuring, and exfoliating in strips when mature. The trees are monoecious, both male and female cones on an individual plant. The female (seed) cones are solitary, oval, green then light brown, about 2 cm long; male (pollen) cones are arranged in long pendant clusters, each cone is globose and about 5 mm long.  Pollination occurs in early spring and the seeds in the female cones are mature by the fall. (However, because of western Oregon's wet, but mild, winters, the cones are not dry enough to open and release the seeds until the following spring.) 
  • Sun. Easy to transplant, performs best in moist, well-drained, slightly acid soils.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4     Native to Sichuan (Szechuan, Szechwan), China.  Only introduced in 1948. Several cultivars are available, including:
    • 'Gold Rush'  -  bright yellow foliage in spring and retains much of the color throughout the summer
    • 'Miss Grace'  -  more or less ground sprawling, but if staked, a small tree with weeping branches
  • State Fossil of Oregon:     The Oregon legislature designated the Metasequoia as the official state fossil in 2005.  Metasequoia flourished in the Miocene epoch of 25 to 5 million years ago and left its record embedded in rocks across the Oregon landscape.
  • Corvallis: tree in Riverfront Park, just south of the Harrison Ave. bridge.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: two trees, young and older, northeast of Community Hall
    • The Daily Barometer (June 3, 1948) reported that Professor J.R. Dilworth, assistant professor of forest management, recently received a packet of dawn redwood seeds from [Harvard’s] Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.  According to Dilworth the ancient trees would soon be growing in the Peavy arboretum north of Corvallis.  The article further states that the seeds were collected by Dr. Chaney, a paleobotanist at the University of California, during an expedition to China earlier in the year. (It is likely that the seeds from Arnold Arboretum were actually sent by Dr. E. D. Merrill, the Director of the Arboretum, for Merrill received such seeds from a Chinese scientist in January 1948 and quickly redistributed then to institutions and individuals in the U.S, including Chaney). 
    • It is reported in the Daily Barometer, April, 26, 1949, that Chaney gave three rare trees (called Dawn Sequoia in the article) to Paul Dunn, dean of the school of forestry, for planting on the Oregon State campus.  The seedling trees were about a foot tall and were derived from seeds Chaney planted in April 1948.  Donald J. Martel, head of the department of landscape architecture, was charged with selecting a site suitable for the young trees.​
    • It is often presumed that large dawn redwood in front (east) of Community Hall is one of the trees gifted to Dean Dunn in 1949.  Some have conjectured that the two large dawn redwood trees in front of the Peavy Lodge in the Peavy Arboretum are also part of the gift from Chaney.   Hard evidence as to the origin of all three trees is lacking.  Also it is not clear what happened to the seeds received by Dilworth in 1948, possibly some of the dawn redwood trees around the Peavy Forest Science Center are derived from these seeds.
    • A smaller tree stands to the north of the large dawn redwood, it was planted on June 4, 1991 to memorialize those affected by the violent crackdown on protesting students in Tiananmen Square, Beijing (Daily Barometer, June 20, 1991)..  The protest was forcibly suppressed by armed troops supported by tanks on 4 June, 1998. Reporters and Western diplomats there that day estimated that hundreds to thousands of protesters were killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as many as 10,000 were arrested.


Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit: winter, early spring, and mid-spring

    plant habit: winter, early spring, and mid-spring

  • male (pollen) catkins, early spring

    male (pollen) catkins, early spring

  • pollen (male) cones

    pollen (male) cones

  • female cones at seed release, early spring

    female cones at seed release, early spring

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • branches


  • branch with cone

    branch with cone

  • needles, comparison

    needles, comparison

  • cones and leaves, Sept.

    cones and leaves, Sept.

  • cone collected in October and dried, seeds fully mature

    cone collected in October and dried, seeds fully mature

  • plant habit, late fall

    plant habit, late fall

  • foliage, fall

    foliage, fall

  • plant habit, winter and trunk

    plant habit, winter and trunk

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter twigs, buds

    winter twigs, buds