T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Subfamily: Sequoioideae
Genus: Metasequoia
Species: M. glyptostroboides
Binomial name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Common name: Dawn Redwood

Metasequoia glyptostroboides is a fast-growing, critically endangered deciduous conifer tree. It is the sole living species of the genus Metasequoia, and one of three species of conifers known as redwoods. It is native to the Sichuan-Hubei province of Western China.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides was first known only as fossils from the late Cretaceous period, 136 million years ago. In 1944 specimens were collected from living trees in China and was identified by an institute of biology in Beijing that it was the same species as the fossils. In 1948 the species was formally described and named as Metasequoia glyptostroboides. Its discovery caused a sensation and more than three hundred research papers have been published on this species. The seeds of the dawn redwood was freely and widely distributed around the world soon after the species was formally named. A number of trees in New Zealand were established from seeds sent from China in May 1949.
Since then the Dawn Redwood has become a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens worldwide. In 1969 it was given an Award of Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Although shortest of the redwoods, it grows to at least 61 m in height and older specimens form wide buttresses on the lower trunk.
The leaves are opposite, 1–3 cm long, and bright fresh green, turning a foxy red-brown in fall. The pollen cones are 5–6 mm long, produced on long spikes in early spring; they are only produced on trees growing in regions with hot summers. The cones are globose to ovoid, 1.5–2.5 cm in diameter with 16-28 scales, arranged in opposite pairs in four rows, each pair at right angles to the adjacent pair; they mature in about 8–9 months after pollination.

The tree below was photographed at Tupare Gardens : http://www.tupare.info/ 
This tree is on New Zealand's Tree Register: http://register.notabletrees.org.nz/tree/view/711

Upper surface of the leaves

Under side of the leaves