The Dinosaur Tree

I don’t commit easily to large trees since I’m awfully greedy about the sunshine in my yard, but there’s one tree I had to have.  It was bought for the old house but I couldn’t leave it behind when we moved, so out of the ground it came again and up to the new house.  After twelve months in a temporary spot I moved it again to what hopefully will become its permanent location.  It glows in the back of the yard, and although I can’t get a decent picture of all its bright yellowness, I’ll post this picture anyway.

dawn redwood in the yard

My favorite tree, Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Ogon’ (Goldrush) growing in the backyard.

This tree is easy to grow in normal to damp soils, has few pests, and grows relatively fast.  It’s one of those weird ducks of the tree world, mainly a conifer that drops its needles every fall.  Metasequoia glyptostroboides is the full name and as the sequoia part indicates it’s a distant relative to the giant sequoias and redwoods of the west coast of N. America.  It’s common name is dawn redwood, and the cultivar I have is the golden needled “Ogon” which is usually sold under the name of “Goldrush”.  Butter-yellow is what I would call the needle color.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ogon goldrush

In full sun Ogon’s needles take on a bright yellow, while interior needles keep a fresh chartreuse color.

I love the color.  The straight species is a cool tree too, but the yellow on this one wins me over completely (but I admit I’m a yellow-leaf-anything lover).  ‘Ogon’ is a Japanese selection and I think it means gold.  The original plant was selected from a batch of seedlings grown from irradiated seed… I guess that explains the glow 😉

goldrush dawn redwood

Looks great against the blue sky too 🙂

The species has an interesting history too.  It’s been called a dinosaur tree since for years it was believed extinct and only known through fossil records dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.  Living trees were only “discovered” in the 1940’s growing at Chinese temples and then later as wild groves in a few isolated areas.  Seeds and cuttings were collected, plants were grown, and now the tree is known throughout the globe (at least among tree lovers).

ogon metasequoia

On younger trees the bright yellow may fade to white in full sun, and then end up browning on the edges. My tree is doing fine in a dry spot, but they grow better with more water.

I think if I had more room, a nice grove of these would be about right.  My single tree has so much character and brightness I feel almost like it’s more of a pet than a plant, and I may or may not have talked to it at times.  If you ever get the chance to see older trees they develop a cool buttress at the base with deep ridges and fissures.  I think this only happens if you leave the lower branches on, and since mine will need to be limbed up (for more planting areas of course) I think I’ll end up with a smoother trunk.  Still nice in my opinion!

This post has me thinking about other cool trees.  If I could only get rid of the annoying red maples along the North property line I could put something nicer along there….. hmmm.   Any suggestions?