In case you have been concerned about the possible disappearance of forests, the weekly Seattle Argus has come up with some encouraging tree-growing news from the dense woods of the Northwest. It seems that some 55 million years ago a tree called the metasequoia, or dawn redwood (it is related to both sequoias and redwoods), grew abundantly over Washington and Oregon, appeared in Japan and Manchuria and even grew within eight degrees of the North Pole. Fossil remains have been discovered in New York state and the Nevada desert. The metasequoia was believed to have been extinct for 30 million years until a Chinese forester during World War II found a tree growing in a remote area of Szechwan province. A postwar expedition supported by Harvard's Arnold Arboretum then found a grove of the dawn redwoods in another province and returned with seeds and cuttings. From greenhouse plantings, seedlings were sent to areas where the metasequoia once was a shade tree for dinosaurs.
After 20 years, which is not very long in comparison with 30 million, a metasequoia growing in the backyard of a botanist at Washington State University has reached a respectable height of 25 feet. There is a metasequoia planted 16 years ago at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Ore. that is now 35 feet tall. Another spectacularly revived fossil is growing in the Rhododendron Glen of the University of Washington Arboretum. It is 44 feet high.
Botanists are considering growing the dawn redwood for commercial use.