Susan LaBounty

Susan LaBounty pic

Majestic Metasequoia, Brilliant Autumn Needles, Typical Branches Low on Trunk and A Living Fossil or Live Dawn Redwood Sprig With It's Fossil


Dawn Redwood: A Living Fossil ~OR~ How can a living tree be the official state fossil of Oregon?

In a remote Chinese valley in 1941, a forester stumbled upon a mysterious stand of majestic trees. What were they? No one but the indigenous people of the valley had seen them before. That same year, a scientist in Japan studied the fossils of a 65-million-year-old extinct tree that he named Metasequoia. Five years later it was discovered that the mystery trees of the Chinese valley were Metasequoia. The scientific world erupted with excitement. This was as astounding as finding a living dinosaur. A fossil tree was alive in China!

The Metasequoia (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides), commonly called dawn redwood, is unusual because it is a conifer (bears cones) and also a deciduous tree (needles turn reddish-orange and drop from the tree in autumn). The tree is the official Oregon state fossil. A dawn redwood can be seen on the UO campus at the northeast corner of the volcanology building.

 

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