This tree was known and named only through fossils, as it was believed extinct for thousands of years. It was discovered alive in 1941 in Hueph, China and brought to America and distributed to arboretums and botanical gardens around the world in 1948 by the Arnold Arboretum. Since then, this beauty has grown in popularity as fast as it grows in good moist soil.
Dawn Redwood, named for its apparent resemblance to the Coast Redwood, can easily attain heights of 90 to 100 feet tall and may grow as much as 5 feet in one year. They prefer full sun and a moist, slightly acid soil in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. Hot dry regions or areas near salty ocean winds will burn the foliage or even kill this species.
Dawn Redwood is a conifer or cone bearing tree with small round cones on long stalks. It is also one of the few deciduous conifers, meaning it loses its needles in the fall. The pale green feathery needles emerge in late spring and turn darker in summer. In autumn, they become a rusty orange or reddish brown and in early winter shed to make a thick natural mulch.
In winter-time, the bark becomes a major focal point with deeply fissured trunks and exfoliating bark in strips of red and brown. A beautiful ornamental shade tree for any season, the Dawn Redwood has few pests or diseases of any consequence and requires little pruning. This fascinating and infatuating tree is a must for open spaces.