Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwood

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Scientific Name:
Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Edinburgh, E22 Map
Adopted, available May 2026

The dawn redwood is a member of the Cypress family. Unusually for a conifer, most of which are evergreen, it is a deciduous tree – shedding its flattened needles after they turn reddish-brown in the autumn, and flushing anew each spring. It produces small, pendulous cones.

The discovery of this species caused great excitement when it was found growing between Sichuan and Hubei Provinces, western China, in the 1940s. Various fossils of the genus dating from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic periods had previously been known from widely scattered localities in the northern hemisphere. With less than 6,000 of these remarkable conifer trees left in the wild, it is listed as ‘Endangered’. Since 1948 specimens have been grown from wild collected seed and are maturing in many botanic gardens around the world. A few trees can be seen at Benmore and Edinburgh. At Dawyck, under the auspices of the RBGE International Conifer Conservation Programme, a small grove of dawn redwoods has been planted, in order to sustain its genetic diversity and thus help to ensure the survival of this ‘living fossil’.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)