Virginia Tech® home

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published November 2010, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: About one-half inch flat needle-like leaves; deciduous
Height: About 75 feet
Spread: About 20 feet
Shape: Distinctly conical

Main features: Dawn redwood is a fast-growing large deciduous conifer with a distinctly conical form. This species is quite majestic; its feather-like foliage confers a fine texture. Fall foliage color is variable but a pleasant brown-orange color is typical. Dawn redwood tolerates moist soil. This species’ noble stature is derived from its size, form, and foliage; these qualities makes it useful as a specimen plant, and used in groupings, and on both sides of a path or drive to create an allée. Old specimens have trunk bases that are widely and sinuously flared giving the trunk a most interesting appearance.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 5 to 8
Light: Full sun
Moisture: Moist to average; somewhat drought tolerant
Soil type: Most soils
pH range: Acid; some reports indicate tolerance to alkaline soils


This species’ noble stature derived from its size, form, and foliage makes it a useful as a specimen plant, and used in groupings, and on both sides of a path or drive to create an allée.


No special care is required providing that trees are plant in an area that will accommodate the large size.

Additional Information:

There are a few cultivars of dawn redwood but the most prevalent clone in the trade is ‘Gold Rush’ (same as ‘Ogon’) which has striking bright yellow foliage. Prior to the mid 1940s, this species was only known to the scientific community by fossils. Later in that decade it was found growing in central China and was identified as dawn redwood.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

March 7, 2024