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8 Different Types of Redwood Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Tree Types » 8 Different Types of Redwood Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

Redwood trees are massive coniferous trees within the Cyperaceae or Cypress family of gymnosperms, an ancient lineage that evolved before flowering plants.

There are three genera, each with only one extant (not extinct) species, all part of the Sequoioideae, or redwood subfamily.

Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, is a narrow endemic of coastal California and Oregon, USA.

Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, is an even narrower endemic of the western Sierra Nevadas, California.

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, is another narrow endemic in Hubei, China, that was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1944.

All three species are endangered in the wild due to habitat loss, over-harvesting, climate change, and fire suppression.

Two of the three are the tallest and most massive trees in the world and among the longest-lived organisms in the world.

Let’s learn how to identify the different types of redwood trees by examining their identifying characteristics.

Contents show

Redwood Tree Identification (With Photos)

Redwood Trees are from three separate genera but are all part of the Sequoideae subfamily and share several morphological characteristics.

Let’s learn how to identify the different types of redwood trees!

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Leaves

Redwoods may have needle-like leaves similar to those of fir trees, or they may have scale-like leaves that more resemble those of juniper trees, or they may have both.

In Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias, their leaves are evergreen. In Dawn Redwood, the leaves are deciduous.

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Needle-Like Leaves

Needle-like leaves are linear, resembling a needle.

In the needle-like leaves of Coast Redwoods, they are arranged spirally but twisted to lay in two flat horizontal rows, similar to a fir tree. But they can quickly be distinguished from a fir tree by their decurrent bases that extend partway down onto the twig as compared to the ‘suction cup’ like attachment and non-decurrent bases seen in fir leaves.

In Dawn Redwoods, their needle-like leaves are arranged in two flat horizontal rows, more like the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), but they are arranged in opposite pairs rather than alternately, and they are not twisted in order to lay flat.

Leaf Shape - 4 Square - needle-like leaf comparison - redwoods
Images by Marija Gaj, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Lyrae Willis, Own Work, Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.5, and James St. John, CC BY 2.0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Scale-Like Leaves

Coast Redwoods have dimorphic leaves, both needle-like and scale-like. Their scale-like leaves are found on cone-bearing branches and those higher in the canopy that get more sunlight.

Their scale-like leaves have decurrent bases (extend down onto the twig) and are arranged in overlapping rows that are appressed to the twig surface but quite free at their pointy tips. They also have conspicuous stomatal bands (see below).

Giant Sequoia has only scale-like leaves that resemble the Coast Redwood in being overlapping and appressed to the surface, free at their pointy tips, and having decurrent bases, but their stomata are not as conspicuous.

The presence of mostly needle-like leaves in the lower canopy of Coast Redwood will help to differentiate the two species quickly.

Though both scale-like leaves appear superficially similar to many juniper trees, they can quickly be differentiated by juniper’s smaller size, thinner bark, and the presence of fleshy berry-like seed cones instead of woody cones.

Juniper scale-like leaves are also often completely appressed without any free tips or mostly appressed with only a small free tip.

Leaf Shape - 3 Square - scale-like leaf comparison - redwoods
Images by Ilya Katsnelson, CC BY 2.0, Petr Filippov, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, and Lyrae Willis, Own Work – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Leaf Tips (Apex)

Redwood scale-like leaf tips are typically quite pointy. They may either be acuminate (long, narrowly pointed) or acute (the two sides are more or less equal and meet at an angle of less than 90°).

Redwood needle-like leaf tips may be rounded, blunt (more or less flat), or they may be acute.

Leaf Apex - 1 Landscape - coniferous multiple types
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Stomata

Stomata are pores in leaf surfaces that allow for gas exchange.

Stomatal bands are densely packed stomata that appear as white or blue-white lines on their lower leaf surfaces. Often, the size and number of visible bands and whether they are on the lower or upper surface, or both, are used to help identify different types of conifer trees.

Sometimes the bands are more diffuse, and the lines appear fainter. Sometimes stomata are so diffuse they are just individual dots. And other times, the stomata are much less dense and not heavily coated with wax, so we cannot see them at all without the use of magnification.

Like most conifers, redwoods typically have stomata that have a white waxy protective coating that make them more visible.

Coast Redwoods have two very prominent thick stomatal bands on their lower leaf surface. They have more diffuse stomatal bands on their upper surfaces.

Giant Sequoia has more diffuse stomata that are visible as faint lines or as individual dots rather than bands. These are found on both surfaces.

Dawn Redwoods have inconspicuous stomata that do not appear as bands or conspicuous dots.

Stomata - 2 Square - Stomatal band comparison
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Seed Cones

Redwood trees are monoecious, with separate male and female cones being found on the same tree.

As with all conifer trees, their pollen cones are typically small and inconspicuous and often high above the ground in their massive canopies. So, they are not often used in identification.

Seed cones often fall to the ground from wind or at maturity and are used more often to help identify different types of conifer trees.

Redwood trees all have similar-looking woody seed cones with numerous woody cone scales that each have one to several seeds.

Coast and Dawn Redwood seed cones dry and open, releasing their seeds at maturity. Giant Sequoia seed cones are fire-adapted. Their cones persist on the trees and hold their seeds for as many as 20 years, waiting for the heat of a fire to open the scales and release them.

The size and shape of the cones and the number of cone scales are sometimes used to help identify the different types of redwood trees.

Seed cones can be rounded (also called orbicular), ellipsoid (widest in the middle and narrowing at both ends), or ovoid (egg-shaped).

Cone Seed Comparison- 3 Square - coastredwood giantsequoia dawnredwood
Images by Ilya Katsnelson, CC BY 2.0, S. Rae, CC BY 2.0, and Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Tree Habit and Trunk Characteristics

Tree habit or form is the overall shape that a tree has when viewed from a distance.

Redwoods are massive trees, usually with a conical to often narrowly conical habit (cone-like, wider at the bottom and narrow at the top), or sometimes they have open and spreading crowns.

Redwood trunks are typically straight, very straight in the Coast Redwood.

In Giant Sequoia and Dawn Redwood, the trunks are often buttressed (widened) at the base.

Widened trunks often spread and connect with the shallow surface roots, creating buttress roots that may further widen the base.

Tree Habit - 3 Square - buttresstrunk conical openspread
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and A.Poulos (Iya), CC BY 2.0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Giant Sequoia trunks remain wide for a long distance up into the canopy, making them more massive trees by volume.

Coast Redwood trunks start to taper sooner into a narrower trunk, making the Coast Redwood not as massive as the Giant Sequoia by weight, even though they are able to attain taller heights.

Tree Habit - 2 Square - redwoodtapering sequoiawidetrunk
Images by Threat to Democracy, CC BY 2.0 and Daniel G Rego, Own work, CC0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Branch Growth

Branch growth patterns can also be useful tools in helping to identify the different types of redwood trees.

Redwood branches are often horizontal, where they come out of the trunk at right angles to it and remain mostly horizontal for their length.

Some branches are slightly ascending, where they are directed towards the tip of the tree. Often horizontal branches can have tips that are ascending.

Descending branches bend downwards towards the bottom of the trunk. In some cultivars, they can descend so strongly that they are almost vertical.

Branches themselves rarely are pendulous or drooping, but the twigs or branchlets (smaller secondary branches) are often pendulous, producing a somewhat weeping look.

Branch Morphology - 4 Square - ascending descending horizontal pendulous
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Redwood Trees by Their Bark

All bark starts out smooth when the trees are very young.

In redwoods, the bark quickly thickens and often develops characteristic deep vertical grooves or fissures.

As it ages further, it often becomes fibrous and exfoliating in thin, stringy, fibrous strips.

Coast Redwood develops bark up to 1 ft thick, while Giant Sequoia has even thicker bark up to 3 ft thick at the base.

This very thick bark is another adaptation to fire as it allows them to survive all but the most severe forest fires. This is also seen in Douglas Fir. Older specimens of these species routinely have burn scars on their bark, showing evidence of this adaptation.

Dawn Redwood has thinner bark compared to the other redwood trees, and it is mostly fibrous and exfoliating with some vertical grooves.

Bark Morphology - 2 Square - deeplygrooved fibrous
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

8 Different Types of Redwood Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

1. Coast Redwood – Sequoia sempervirens

Coast Redwood - Sequoia_sempervirens
Image by Allie_Caulfield, CC BY 2.0

Coast Redwood is a massive, long-lived (2000 years or more), evergreen coniferous tree.

In its native habitat, it is the tallest tree on Earth at 380.1 ft tall and a diameter at breast height of 29 ft.

In cultivation, they typically reach about 100 ft tall.

They are easy to grow if the climate is right.

Best grown in moist, well-drained, rich, humusy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 6.5) in full sun.

They will not tolerate shade or soils that are compacted, alkaline, or salty. They will tolerate wet soils but not dry.

It naturally grows in foggy mountains, so keep your tree well-watered until established. If you have very dry summers, continue watering through the summer months.

Fertilizers are not required.

It’s Endangered in its native habitat, and its population is decreasing.

Interestingly, this massive tree is becoming popular with bonsai enthusiasts.

Identifying Features of the Coast Redwood

Coast Redwoods are massive trees with conical crowns, slightly ascending, horizontal to slightly pendulous branches, and a very straight trunk.

The bark is bright red-brown, becoming darker with age, and is up to 1 ft thick, soft and fibrous but also deeply grooved.

Its leaves are dimorphic. Juvenile trees and shady lower branches have needle-like leaves, 0.6 – 1” long, spirally arranged, and twisted to lie flat, like fir trees.

Other leaves are scale-like, 0.25 – 0.4” long. Variations in between are also found.

Leaves are dark green above, with two prominent blue-white stomatal bands below. Stomata are present but not prominent on upper surfaces.

Seed cones are ovoid, 0.6 – 1.25”, with 15 – 25 spirally arranged short-pointed flat scales and 3 – 7 seeds per scale that are released when the scales dry and open upon maturity.

Pollen cones are under 0.2” and borne singly, mostly terminal.

Often Confused With: Coast Redwood is mostly confused with the Giant Sequoia, which has a strongly buttressed trunk with thicker bark, leaves that are only scale-like rather than dimorphic and variable, and it has more diffuse stomata on both leaf surfaces. Sometimes young trees are confused with Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) which has only needle-like leaves, scaly bark, and fleshy red seed cones that look more like berries.

Other Common Names: Redwood, California Redwood, Coastal Sequoia

Native Area: Narrow endemic of central and northern coastal California and a small section of coastal southwestern Oregon, USA.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 100 ft (to 380 ft) tall, 30 – 40 ft spread

2. Soquel Coast Redwood Tree – Sequoia sempervirens ‘Soquel’

Soquel Coast Redwood Cultivar - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Soquel Coast Redwood is much like its parent with its evergreen leaves and thick reddish-brown fibrous and deeply grooved bark, but in a more compact size, making it suitable for larger gardens and landscapes.

It is a relatively fast-growing tree, growing 2 – 2.5 ft per year and reaching its mature height after 45 years.

They will only grow well in USDA zones 7 – 9, so know your USDA growing zone.

They are moderately drought-tolerant and more drought-tolerant than the Giant Sequoia. However, they require adequate moisture and will need summer watering if rainfall is not plentiful enough.

This cultivar was selected from a seedling in the 1970s at the Saratoga Horticultural Research Station, University of California at Davis.

Often the ‘Soquel’ and ‘Aptos Blue’ cultivars (see below) are considered synonymous, but they vary in their foliage color and branch structure.

Identifying Features of the Soquel Coast Redwood Tree

The Soquel Coast Redwood is much like the Coast Redwood in its form, leaf, trunk, and bark morphology, but in a smaller but still, large-sized tree reaching no more than 90 ft tall and 40 ft wide.

Branches are compact and slightly ascending, creating a narrowly conical habit as it matures.

Leaves are lush and light green but darken throughout the growing season as they mature.

Often Confused With: Soquel Coast Redwood differs from its parent strain, Coast Redwood, with its more compact, less weeping branches and more compact overall habit and size. It differs from the Aptos Blue cultivar in having greener leaves and branches that are slightly ascending rather than horizontal and somewhat pendulous.

Other Common Names: Soquel Sequoia

Native Area/Origin: Seedling collected 1970’s at the University of California at Davis, California, USA.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 90 ft tall, 20 – 40 ft spread

3. Aptos Blue Coast Redwood – Sequoia sempervirens ‘Aptos Blue’

Aptos Blue Coast Redwood Cultivar - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Boething Treeland Farms – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Aptos Blue Coast Redwood is a strong, fast-growing tree that can grow 2.5 ft per year. It will reach a maximum height of 120 ft, making it suitable for any larger garden or home landscape with enough room for it.

Its horizontal branches have drooping twigs giving it an overall weeping appearance.

They are moisture-loving trees and work well for well-watered landscapes as a specimen tree, in small groups, or on property borders.

They do well in full sun or part shade.

Native birds and butterflies will be attracted to it.

This cultivar was also selected from a seedling in the 1970s at the Saratoga Horticultural Research Station, University of California at Davis.

Often the ‘Aptos Blue’ and ‘Soquel’ cultivars (see above) are considered synonymous, but they vary in their foliage color and branch structure.

Identifying Features of the Aptos Blue Coast Redwood

Aptos Blue Coast Redwood is a large tree (to 120 ft tall) with a very straight trunk, horizontal branches, and pendulous twigs.

It has an overall conical habit even though the twigs are pendulous.

The bark is reddish-brown, soft, spongy, fibrous, and grooved.

Leaves are a dark blue-green but otherwise resemble the type species.

Often Confused With: Aptos Blue Coast Redwood varies from its parent strain in its more compact size, branches that are never ascending, and leaves that are a dark blue-green instead of green. It can be differentiated from the Soquel Coast Redwood, which also has more ascending branches and leaves that are not blue-green.

Other Common Names: N/A

Native Area/Origin: Seedling collected 1970’s at the University of California at Davis, California, USA.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 80 – 120 ft tall, 20 – 40 ft spread

4. Giant Sequoia – Sequoiadendron giganteum

Giant_Sequoias_of_Merced_Grove
Image by Martin Jambon, CC BY 2.0

Giant Sequoia is a narrow endemic that only occurs in the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

While the Coast Redwood is taller, these trees have larger trunks that taper at a greater height and have more weight, so they are the most massive.

Best grown in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained soils. It has very little drought tolerance but also does not tolerate wet soils or flooding.

This massive tree is also becoming popular with bonsai enthusiasts.

It is listed as Endangered, with less than 80,000 trees remaining when last assessed. Sadly, the massive fires of 2020 and 2021 in California destroyed another 13 – 19% of their population (9,761 – 13,637 trees) since then.

Even though they’re fire-adapted (thick bark and seed cones that open with fire), decades of fire suppression created too much fuel, creating severe fires worsened by drought and climate change.

Identifying Features of the Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia is a massive tall tree with a wide trunk that is strongly buttressed and diameter at breast height of 20 – 26 ft.

The crown is conical when young but becomes open and spreading with age, and branches become pendulous with ascending tips on mature specimens.

The bark is reddish-brown, spongy, very deeply grooved, and fibrous, shredding with cinnamon-colored fibers. It is very thick, up to 3 ft thick, at the base of the trunk.

Leaves are scale-like, blue-green, with a decurrent base, and free at their sharply pointed tip. Stomata are present on both surfaces but are generally in more diffuse but still visible bands.

Seed cones are ellipsoid, 1.5 – 3” long, with 30 – 50 spirally arranged shield-like scales per cone, each with several seeds.

Seed cones are fire-adapted and can remain closed for 20 years until released by the heat of a fire or insect damage.

Often Confused With: Giant Sequoia is mostly confused with Coast Redwood which has a straighter trunk that is not strongly buttressed and has thinner bark (up to 1 ft thick) and dimorphic leaves with both needle-like and scale-like found on the same tree. Smaller specimens are also confused with California Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) which has similar scale-like leaves, but they are more closely appressed and not free at their less pointy, abruptly acute tips, and their seed cones have only six seed scales that curve outwards and backward at maturity.

Other Common Names: Giant Redwood, Sierra Redwood, California Big Tree

Native Area: Narrow endemic found in scattered groves in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA, spread over a total area of only 35,620 acres.

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 200 ft (to 311 ft) tall, 25 – 35 ft spread

5. Barabits Requiem Sequoia – Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Barabits Requiem’

Barabits Requeum Giant Sequoia Cultivar - Grid 2 Square
Images via Conifer Kingdom – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Barabits Requiem Sequoia is a unique cultivar with an elegant weeping form and light green leaves.

It has a straight top shoot that keeps growing, horizontal and drooping branches, and somewhat drooping twigs, creating a bizarre form but with a more or less overall pyramidal shape.

In the winter, the coarse light green leaves turn brownish-green but brighten to light green in spring.

Best grown in moist, humusy, moderately rich soil in full sun to partial shade.

This cultivar was selected in the 1950s by Barabits Nurseries in Hungary.

Identifying Features of the Barabits Requiem Sequoia

Barabits Requiem is a unique tree with a bizarre growth pattern with a strong central leader that is often straight and tall.

Some branches descend so strongly they are nearly vertical and may reach the ground, while others are more or less horizontal with pendulous twigs.

The overall habit is pyramidal.

When the top shoot occasionally does not grow straight up, it creates a more broad crown with multiple stiff, sweeping branches that reach the ground.

Often Confused With: Barabits Requiem Sequoia can be differentiated from the parent strain, Giant Sequoia, by its much more compact size and bizarre branching structure with its mixture of horizontal branches and strongly descending branches that often reach the ground.

Other Common Names: N/A

Native Area/Origin: Cultivar developed in Hungary.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 50 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

6. Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Dawn Redwood - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Dawn Redwood is short compared to other redwoods but is still very large, growing up to 200 ft tall in its natural habitat or to about 100 ft in cultivation.

It’s a deciduous coniferous tree, losing its needle-like leaves each winter, just like its cousin, the Bald Cypress.

It was once considered extinct until it was rediscovered on wet lower slopes and wet montane valleys in Hubei, China.

It’s Endangered, with only 5393 individuals remaining in the wild.

It is too large for all but the largest gardens but makes a wonderful specimen or shade tree in parks, boulevards, or other large landscapes.

Best grown in acidic to neutral soils that are consistently moist. It tolerates wet soils but will not tolerate alkaline or dry soils.

It can be susceptible to early fall frosts, so provide a sheltered location if you live in the northern end of its hardiness zone.

Identifying Features of the Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwood is a tall deciduous coniferous tree that often forms a wide buttress on its lower trunk.

The bark is reddish-brown with some vertical grooves and exfoliating in fibrous but somewhat wide and ribbon-like strips.

Its needle-like leaves are oppositely arranged in two horizontal rows but are not twisted in order to lie flat.

Leaves are 0.4 – 1.2” long, with blunt to rounded tips and a prominent groove on the upper surface. They are bright green but turn reddish-brown in autumn before falling off the tree.

Pollen cones are 0.20 – 0.24” long on long spikes and appear in early spring but only in areas with hot summers.

Seed cones are rounded to ovoid, 0.6 – 1” wide, with 16 – 28 scales in opposite pairs at right angles to each other in four rows. They mature and release their seeds in 8 – 9 months.

Often Confused With: Dawn Redwood can be differentiated from the other two redwoods by its smaller size and deciduous needle-like leaves that are arranged in two opposite rows and are not twisted in order to lie flat. It is mostly confused with the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), which has a buttressed trunk and similar leaves but has thinner bark and thinner leaves that are alternately arranged, have no prominent groove, have pointy rather than blunt or rounded tips, and are sometimes twisted at their base.

Other Common Names: Water Fir, Water Larch, Shui Shan (Chinese)

Native Area: A very narrow endemic of the Hubei province of China.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 100 ft (to 200 ft) tall, 25 – 40 ft spread

7. Amber Glow™ Redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘WAH-08AG’

Amber Dawn Redwood - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Amber Glow is a cultivar of the deciduous Dawn Redwood.

It has similar-looking leaves as the type species but in a brighter green, and its leaves are tipped with burgundy in spring and summer before it turns an attractive orange in the fall before the leaves drop.

Its beautiful bark and often buttressed trunk provide winter interest.

Unlike its parent, it comes in a significantly more compact size (up to 40 ft tall), making it suitable for any large home garden or landscape.

Easy to grow and fast-growing, this highly adaptable tree is disease free and requires virtually no maintenance once established.

It is best grown in full sun, where it thrives without burning the foliage.

Best grown in consistently moist, humusy soil. It is adaptable to wet soils and will tolerate some standing water.

In colder climates, apply a thick mulch to the root zone to protect its roots.

Identifying Features of the Amber Glow Redwood

Amber Glow Redwood is a medium-sized deciduous coniferous tree (to 40 ft tall) with a pyramidal habit and a strong central leader.

Its reddish-brown bark is grooved and exfoliating in thin fibrous strips.

Leaves are bright green and yellow in the spring when they emerge, turning burgundy variegated (mostly on the tips) soon after and turning orange in the autumn before falling off the tree.

Leaves are arranged in flattened rows in opposite pairs.

Often Confused With: Amber Glow Redwood can be differentiated from its parent strain, the Dawn Redwood, by its much more compact size and its yellow-green and burgundy variegated leaves.

Other Common Names: N/A

Native Area: N/A

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

8. Gold Rush Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Gold Rush’

Gold Rush Dawn Redwood - Grid 2 Square
Images via Conifer Kingdom – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Gold Rush Dawn Redwood is a fast-growing tree with bright golden-yellow, surprisingly soft leaves.

It grows up to 2 ft per year, reaching a mature height of 80 ft.

In the autumn, its yellow leaves turn a deep auburn.

Best grown in full sun in wet soil. Be sure to water in the summer if your summers are hot and dry.

It makes a great specimen tree for boggy yards.

It was discovered in a Japanese nursery by a Dutch nurseryman who exported it to Holland and began selling it commercially in the 1990s.

Identifying Features of the Gold Rush Dawn Redwood

Gold Rush Dawn Redwood is a large deciduous coniferous tree with an upright, narrowly conical to pyramidal form.

It has unique chartreuse to golden-yellow deciduous leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs in two horizontal rows. They turn deep auburn in the fall.

Often Confused With: Gold Rush Dawn Redwood can be differentiated from the parent strain Dawn Redwood by its smaller size and yellow leaves. It can be differentiated from Amber Glow Redwood, which has variegated leaves that have some burgundy or orange to them all throughout the growing season, and it is a much shorter tree, only reaching 40 ft tall.

Other Common Names: Golden Ogi, Ogon (Japanese)

Native Area/Origin: Originated in a Japanese nursery.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 80 ft tall, 20 – 30 ft spread

Remarkable Redwood Trees

Growing Redwood Trees in Your Garden

Growing redwood trees in your garden could be challenging for most of us due to their massive size and their relatively narrow hardiness zones. However, medium to tall (but not massive) cultivars are now available and are suitable for larger gardens and landscapes.

If you are thinking about growing a redwood tree, it is important to do some research to ensure success.

First, most redwood trees have a narrow hardiness range, USDA zones 7 – 9 for Coast Redwood and 6 – 9 for Giant Sequoia. Dawn Redwood tolerates both warmer and cooler climates from zones 5 – 10. Be sure you know which USDA Planting Zones you are in before purchasing a tree.

All redwoods are moisture-loving trees and are unsuitable for drought-prone areas unless irrigation is supplied throughout the summer. Coast Redwood is perhaps the most drought-tolerant, but it is only moderately so.

Coast Redwood and Dawn Redwood will both tolerate wet soils, while Giant Sequoia will not. None will tolerate dry soils.

All perform best in slightly acidic soils. They will tolerate neutral but not alkaline soils.

While they should be planted in rich, humusy soil, they generally do not require any fertilizer.

For the most part, they should always be planted in full sun, though some light shade will be tolerated.

Check out How to Pick A Tree For Your Yard for more information on choosing the right tree for the right spot in your yard.

Interesting Facts About Redwood Trees

Giant Sequoia holds the world’s record for the most massive individual tree in the world.

The General Sherman Giant Sequoia tree is the world’s largest tree by volume. It is 275 ft tall and has a trunk over 36 ft in diameter at its buttressed trunk base.

The Coast Redwood holds the record for the world’s tallest tree.

The Hyperion Coast Redwood is the world’s tallest tree. It is 380 ft tall and has a trunk diameter of 13 ft.

The oldest known Giant Sequoia is 3,200 – 3,266 years old, based on dendrochronology. It is the verified third longest-lived tree species in the world.

The oldest known Coast Redwood is about 2,400 years old, younger than the Giant Sequoia, but still a very ancient tree.

Human Uses of Redwood Trees

Redwood trees were an integral part of the daily lives of indigenous Americans living in California. They used them to build shelters, boats, furniture, and tools. They were revered and often used in spiritual ceremonies.

Redwoods are massive trees, and their lumber is highly sought after for its size, versatility, and resistance to decay.

Extensive commercial logging of the California redwoods began in the 1850s. By the 1960s, logging had removed almost 90% of the original stands.

Redwoods are sometimes used ornamentally. Increasingly, cultivars of more manageable sizes are becoming available commercially, making them more popular for growing in parks and larger gardens.

Bonsai enthusiasts are often using all three redwood species as bonsai trees.

Wildlife Values Redwood Trees Provide

Redwood trees are massive trees that provide important structural diversity to the forests they grow in.

They provide habitats for countless mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Remnant old-growth redwood forests provide critical habitat for threatened spotted owls and California-endangered marbled murrelets, two bird species that will only nest and reproduce in old-growth forests.

Redwoods are remarkable and impressive trees in so many ways. I hope you have learned to love and respect these massive giants as much as I do!

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Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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