Virtual Tour


Until the 1940s, everyone believed that this tree was extinct—just like the dinosaurs. Scientists had identified fossils of the dawn redwood—the name they gave this tree—that dated from millions of years ago. A Chinese botanist was exploring a remote valley in China in the 1940s and found a living tree that he could not identify. He and other scientists compared it to the fossils of dawn redwood and realized that a living example of this tree had been found. It had been living in China all these millions of years!

Fossil of dawn redwood.
Fossil of dawn redwood.

Bonus fact:
The dawn redwoods growing at the arboretum were raised from seeds collected by the Chinese botanist from the trees he found in China. He shared these seeds with several different botanic gardens and arboretums around the world, hoping to increase the number of dawn redwoods growing in different places. During prehistoric times, the dawn redwood was growing here in North America. Scientists believe it became extinct on this continent during the Ice Age—a period after the time of the dinosaurs when much of North America was covered with big sheets of ice.

How to find the dawn redwood at the Arboretum:
Go to the parking lot near the Gotelli Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifer Collection. Walk towards the Gotelli collection on the road (be careful of cars). Just before you arrive at the entrance, you'll see a road branching off to your right. Turn right on it, and you'll be standing in the middle of a forest of dawn redwood trees.

Scientific name for dawn redwood: Metasequoia glyptostroboides

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Last Updated   July 10, 2009 10:04 AM