Species: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Common name: Dawn Redwood
Age: Approximately 60 years old
At the turn of last century, botanists believed the Dawn Redwood had died out with the dinosaurs as only fossil records of this magnificent tree remained, earning it the title of “the fossil tree”. Then in 1943 a Chinese Professor discovered a grove of Dawn Redwoods in the Yangtze Valley, 3-million years after it was believed to have gone extinct.
Four pounds of seeds were collected in 1948 and distributed to botanical gardens around the world. One of these ended up in Benvie Garden, “my father, Kinsey Geekie, acquired one of the Dawn Redwood seeds and planted it in our garden in the 1960s. Since then, its bright green leaves that turn copper in autumn have been a feature of our garden”, explains Jenny Robinson.
One of hundreds of second-generation Dawn Redwoods grown from those initial seeds are now found across the globe, the Benvie Dawn Redwood is a great example of global conservation in action. Still, so much about this mighty tree remains unknown. Even its ultimate height is a mystery, as the first-generation Chinese specimens – from which the seed was collected – are still growing despite being hundreds of years old. However, its future is a lot more certain thanks to the efforts of a Chinese Professor, a South African Forester and many others around the globe like him, the Dawn Redwood is no longer confined to the history books and fossil records, it is a living, growing tree that has outlived the dinosaurs and now stands a chance of outliving us too.