The Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptrostroboides) is a deciduous, coniferous tree that grows in a conical shape to 100 feet. It is related to the bald cypress (Taxodium) and redwood (Sequoia). Foliage emerges light green in spring, matures to deep green in summer and turns red-bronze in fall. As the tree matures, the trunk broadens at the base and develops attractive and sometimes elaborate fluting. The tree features linear, feathery, fern-like foliage. The twigs, needles and cone scales are in opposite pairs. It is monoecious, producing oval, light brown female cones (3/4-in) and pendant globose male cones (1/2-in).
From fossil records, the dawn redwood existed as many as 50 million years ago but was thought to be extinct. However, in 1941 a living dawn redwood was discovered in China. Three years later, the Arnold Arboretum in Boston received seeds from the tree and distributed them all over the world. This Marquand Park tree was raised from this shipment of seeds by James Clark, then the Princeton University horticulturalist and planted here in 1955. Other Dawn redwoods can be found on Prospect and Princeton avenues and on the university campus.