P90626The easier name is ‘dawn redwood’. I just used the big and fancy Latin name because that is how landscape designers with something to prove say it. If the big name does not impress clients, an explanation of how rare it is, and that it is one of only a few deciduous conifers, will likely do the job. Even back when it was still a fad, I got the impression that was its main function; to impress clients.
It is not even a particularly practical tree. If it gets too big for its situation, it is difficult to contain without disfiguring the canopy. Because the priorities for most were conformity to a fad and to dazzle a client, not much thought went into their appropriateness to their respective landscapes. Consequently, many went into landscapes that were not big enough for them.
Although deciduous, dawn redwood does not even get good color in autumn. It just turns rusty brown, and quite frankly, looks dead.
It is true that there are only a few deciduous conifers. However, the dawn redwood stopped being rare shortly after it became a fad. I mean, how rare can it be if every landscape designer with something to prove gets to plant one?! Isn’t that what happened to the formerly rare yellow clivia after it became a fad?
The only one that I work with now happened to be planted before dawn redwood became a fad. I suppose that makes it okay. It is quite tall now, and has plenty of space to mature. However, I can not help but notice how silly it looks with all the other surrounding coastal redwoods. Although very different, it is similar enough to look like a coastal redwood with some serious problems, especially when it seems to die every autumn.

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4 thoughts on “Horridculture – Metasequoia glyptostroboides

  1. Too funny, looking like a costal redwood with problems! Seriously, it’s so common now it’s part of many landscapes way over here! For me, it’s wondrous because of the enormous root flare, not seen in any other tree over here.

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    1. Enormous root flare? I suppose so. Ours does not have much, probably because it is sheltered by the surrounding redwoods. A much shorter specimen in Santa Cruz has a rather distended trunk because it is more exposed. Compared to coastal and giant redwoods, not much about any other tree is enormous.
      The specimen in Santa Cruz happens to be one of my all time favorites, because it is not near coastal redwoods. It is a single specimen that actually looks rather distinguished.
      Do you happen to have bald cypress there? We have two here, and I have seen a few around the Los Angeles area, but they are somewhat rare. One of ours was planted by someone who thought it was a dawn redwood. I happen to like the one that was supposed to be a dawn redwood because it happens to be in a riparian situation where it is quite happy, and the knees, if it develops any, will not be a problem.

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    2. I probably should have mentioned also that because our dawn redwood was planted within a coastal redwood forest. Someone added a giant redwood just so that all three redwoods wood be in the same place. There is a plaque explaining that, as if they were in a fancy arboretum. Even though I am none too keen on the two exotics, I am pleased that they got the plaque and that people appreciate them.

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