Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the black tree maintenance tags, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Cupressaceae
Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu & W.C.Cheng
Dawn redwood

Black tag 59
54o 34.985N
5o 56.156W

There are three dawn redwoods in the Botanic Gardens. The most noticeable is situated just behind the Kelvin statue near the Malone Road entrance. It has the typical form of young trees of this species: a symmetrical, conical shape, tapering to a pointed tip. There is an older tree, still with the typical conical shape, in the rock garden. The species was discovered in the wild in China in 1946 and the first batch of seeds grown in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston in 1948. After this, seeds were distributed all around the world and it is likely that the oldest Botanic Gardens tree dates from about 1950. Our third tree is to the left side of the path leading from the Malone gate to the Palm House.

Metasequoia is one of relatively few conifers that are deciduous (as are the larches and swamp cypress). The leaves are arranged on short branches which are shed as a unit, rather like the compound leaves of an ash tree. The leaves are similar in shape to Sequoia, hence the generic name. The trunk is a reddish brown.

Detailed information on the dawn redwood can be found in the Wikipedia article. Below: pictures of the young tree near the Kelvin statue taken in mid-April with partially expanded leaves. Bottom right, the trunk of the old tree in the rockery and below left one of the original trees in the Arnold Arboretum.

Metasequoia in Belfast Botanic gardens

Metasequoia leaf detail

above: young expanding foliage of Metasequoia

left: the young tree behind Kelvin statue

Metasequoia in Arnold Arboretum

Above: one of original trees in Arnold Arboretum

Right: oldest Metasequoia in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Old Metasequoia in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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