Pierce Park Dawn Redwoods

These conifers native to China are most peculiar. Their needles are soft and fall when winter comes (deciduous). They also turn the most vivid shade of orange during the fall. Also called Metasequoias, Dawn Redwoods are “cousins” of the Giant Sequoias in California, sharing the same subfamily. They are the smallest of the Redwoods, growing only 200 feet in height — the largest Giant Sequoias are as tall as a 26-story building, and the width of their bases can exceed that of a city street. Giant Sequoias are the largest living beings on Earth.

Although relentless collection of their cones prevented their natural reproduction and nearly brought them to extinction, China is now the only place to view a large number of Dawn Redwoods in the wild.

Fossil records show that Dawn Redwoods once covered the Northern Hemisphere. They were thought to have been extinct for millions of years until their rediscovery in 1941 by a Chinese forester in a remote corner of the Sichuan Province in south-central China. Somehow, a little over a thousand trees had survived for millennia in that region, which ironically is not even an ideal environment for Metasequoias.

A Metasequoia reforestation project named the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve was established in 1995 in the Appalachian region of North Carolina. A 50-acre grove was planted, and many hope that one day it will become established enough to become a public park. The year 2035 is the target date for opening to the public.

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