Content Detail

A large, conical-shaped tree reaching 70 to 100 feet high. Dawn redwood is closely related to bald cypress (Taxodium) and redwood (Sequoia). The fern-like feathery foliage emerges light green in spring, changing to dark green in summer, then a russet-brown in autumn. It grows best in large landscapes.

  • Family (English) Cypress
  • Family (botanic) Cupressaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 70-100 feet
  • Mature width 25 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and form:

The pyramidal-shaped trees mature height is 70 to 100 feet with mature width of 25 feet.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to China and often found in wet sites. This tree was once thought to be extinct. It was found in China in 1941 and introduced into the United States in the late 1940s.

Bark color and texture:

The lower trunk is buttressed and the reddish-brown bark is rough, peeling into long strips.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are deciduous needles held in branchlets that resemble the foliage of yews. Needles are dark green in summer, changing to a russet color in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Male and female flowers on the same tree in separate structures (monoecious). They are not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Cones are rounded and hang on stalks up to 1 1/2 inches long. The cones are green and mature to brown.

Plant care:

Dawn redwood grows best in full sun with moist, slightly acid soil. It needs very little pruning.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

There aren’t any serious diseases or pests, although canker diseases can occur.

Gold Rush dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’): 

This cultivar has golden yellow foliage and a narrow habit. It grows 50 feet high and 20 feet wide.


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