Friday, March 6, 2009
Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia)
At Redwood Park yesterday I noticed these cones in the vicinity of one of the dawn redwoods, close to one of the entrances. The Brown brothers planted at least two of them that I know of, and they are getting to be spectacular. With age these trees get very fissured and wide at the base, which spiders out in every direction; something straight out of Fangorn. Check out this one from somewhere else (the ones I know in Redwood Park don't even come close to that yet).
The dawn redwood was discovered alive in the 1940's, and was only known prior to that point through fossils. They thought it was extinct. So, it was quite something when it was happened upon in some remote part of China, living. The natives of that region were quite familiar with it though.
It's an evergreen, but it sheds its leaves in fall. It can tolerate swampy conditions. It grows very fast. It is long lived. In prehistory it covered much of the northern western hemisphere.
Some twenty years or so after the Brown brothers died, some crew came to the land and drilled down through all the layers. Of the fossils found, some were with imprints of dawn redwood. I like to ponder how it was many millenia until two deaf, reclusive twin brothers reimbursed that land with what was there, and then suddenly not there, millions of years ago.
What's nice about this is that typically you don't find seed-bearing dawn redwoods here in the west - not yet, because they were only brought over not too long ago, which means they need to reach something like 50 years of age to start bearing seed. Thank you, Brown brothers.
This handful I'm not going to stratify. I'm just going to try them straight up. Let's see what happens.