Skip to Main Content Ray Howard Library Shoreline Community College

Tree Campus: Dawn Redwood

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Dawn Redwood

Metasequoia glyptostoboides (CUPRESSACEAE)



South-Central China



"Many questions remain unanswered regarding the original structure and composition of pristine M. glyptostroboidesforests. Given the degree of human land use and land cover change that has occurred in its native range it will be difficult to unravel the confounding effects of human activity on the ecology of this species. Pressing areas to focus future work on involve (1) understanding the natural controls on M. glyptostroboides regeneration and how to stimulate the establishment of wild populations within its native range, (2) understanding the past distribution of M. glyptostroboides in China in order to understand the interaction between human land use and vegetation and (3) continued monitoring of the growth of M. glyptostroboides within its native range and beyond to better understand the natural variation in growth rates and ecological tolerances of the species." [2]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"The Dawn Redwood was first described in Japan in 1941 by Shigeru Miki, who thought he had a discovered the fossils of a tree long since extinct. Then in 1944 a forester with China’s National Central University stumbled upon a small grove of redwoods in the rice paddies of China’s Szechwan Province, not even knowing what they were at the time. Since China was in the midst of war, making study expeditions impossible, these redwoods were pretty much ignored at the time.

Ignored but not forgotten. After the war, Professor Cheng of China’s National Central University sent an expedition to the Szechwan Province in 1946 for a complete study. It was determined that the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, a tree thought to be extinct for more than 5 million years, was indeed ALIVE! About 1,000 Dawn Redwoods were living in very isolated groves in Southeastern China along with birch, chestnut, sweet gum, beech and oak trees.

In 1947 Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum sent another expedition to China to collect seed from these newly discovered redwoods. Despite a government ban, scientists accompanied by armed guards collected four pounds of seed and sent them to Boston. By 1948 this seed was being distributed to botanic gardens and universities across the world, most certainly saving the Dawn Redwood from extinction. Now, 60-plus years later, the beauteous Dawn Redwood is a popular landscape tree here and abroad.

Unfortunately, in nature, the Dawn Redwood is restricted to only a few small and scattered stands in China. The World Conservation Union has classified it as “critically endangered” due to human encroachment." [1]



"Now protected in China, the soft wood was once used for cabinet making." [1]



[1] Kiani, S., & Perler, R. (2017, April 23). Yale Nature Walk: Catalpa. Retrieved from

[2] Williams, C. J. (2005). Ecological characteristics of Metasequoia glyptostroboides. In The Geobiology and Ecology of Metasequoia (pp. 285-304). Springer, Dordrecht.

Privacy Statement
Search the Library Website