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Kunratice Forest

Dawn redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides

You can see two specimens of this tree a few metres away from here, towards the brook: the two trees with orangey bark. The dawn redwood was long known from Mesozoic and Tertiary fossils found in various parts of the world, but was classified by scientists as one of the Sequoia or Taxodium genus. The Japanese Shigeru Miki defined a separate Metasequoia genus in 1941, still believing that the trees went extinct in the Tertiary. By coincidence, unknown live trees were found in the Sichuan province of China. Until the find, it was believed that the plant genus existed in the late Mesozoic and Tertiary eras and went extinct about 70 million years ago, because it was only known from fossils. Only a few years later, after samples were compared with the fossils, did it become clear that they were very similar to the fossil specimens of the Metasequoia genus. A new expedition, funded with US money, was made into the native area of the “living fossil” in the summer of 1947, and returned with numerous new samples and about 2 kg of seeds, some of which went to the USA. The species was described and given a definitive scientific name in 1948.

The dawn redwood is a deciduous coniferous tree with separate male and female inflorescences. It grows over 35 metres tall, assuming a narrow pyramidal form with branches reaching the ground. The needles are deciduous, linear, flat, growing alternately, of a pale green colour which turns yellow to reddish brown before being shed.

The first seeds were sent from China to Europe on 17 January 1948. The botanical garden of Chateau Průhonice acquired some of the seeds in 1949, and the dawn redwood tree there was grown from them; it is the oldest one in the Czech Republic. The two trees in Kunratice are therefore a true rarity.

GPS position

N 50° 1.148', E 14° 28.655'



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Mgr. Lubomír Bartoš
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