Oregon State Fossil


Dawn redwood (Metasequoia)

Dawn redwood (Metasequoia); photo by Tom Brandt on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).


Oregon designated Metasequoia, or dawn redwood, as the official state fossil in 2005. Metasequoia flourished in North America in the Miocene age (5 to 25 million years ago) and left a fossil record embedded in rocks across the Oregon landscape.

Metasequoia (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) was considered long extinct until paleontologists discovered living 100-foot Metasequoia trees in a remote area of China in 1944. Seeds were collected and brought back to the United States for propagation, and seedling trees were distributed to various universities and arboreta worldwide for growth trials. Though critically endanged, living Metasequoia trees can be found today.

This ancient redwood is a fast growing tree in the conifer family. Metasequoia has bark and foliage that resemble the California redwood, but it is actually more like the bald cypress (state tree of Louisiana) because it is deciduous, will thrive in standing water, and older specimens form wide buttresses on the lower trunk.



Dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia); photo by Lana Dyck on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia)


Trees with Don Leopold - dawn redwood