Thursday, August 23, 2012

Final Take on Botanical Gardens in Göteborg and an Amazing Once Believed Extinct Tree

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) 
This incredibly kool prehistoric looking tree once only found in the fossil records, but actually rediscovered not that far back in 1944 in China, was once the dominant tree of the northern hemisphere. Fossils and actual mummified stumps and trunk remains of both Metasequoia & similar trees like Bald Swamp Cypress have been found everywhere in places like the extreme northern Canadian Archipelago in the Arctic, countries like Bükkábrány Hungary, states like Arizona and so on. The trees discovered were massive in comparison to the present modern day form specimens which are protected in their preserve over in Hubei Province China. One man is so impressed with this wonder that he has dedicated an organization and website to this single tree. Great info. He's created a Reserve for them and will open this to the public in 2035. In the mean time you can view his website for info and pictures.
Here are some of my pictures of the single specimen at the Göteborg Botanical Gardens. It was exciting when I found it there on my first visit ever to the Botanical Gardens. Prior to the visit I had been researching Metasequoia as a result of the uncovered giant trees found at the north pole on Axel Heiberg Island some couple decades back and the studies of not only the tree, but also what the climate was like to have such an incredible forest of these giants along with countless other biodiverse living organisms. There is a large stump field right where the trees actually grew after what was described by some as a mega-tsunami which destroyed life there by snapping the trees off their trunks and burying them under massive amounts of sediment which apparently flash froze. Sounds like a "The Day After Tomorrow" scenario of sorts doesn't it ? They estimate in an area called the Buchanon Lake Formation there are some 10,000+ logs and other debris buried there. But the truly amazing thing is that the evidence of this ancient world is still somewhat fresh. The wood still burns and so would the cones, leaves, twigs and branches they have unearthed as a result of further global warming revealing this treasure. None of this is petrified wood as in other fossils caches. Just extremely well preserved organic matter. I'll post a further references pages on this subject below. 


The photo above insists that this is a 50-million-year old tree stump which lies exposed on Axel Heiberg Island, where Nunavut may establish a territorial park. I'm skeptical as to an actual 50 million years old without anything happening to cause decay. But the prevailing ideological philosophy holds the power of the print. Below is a photo of the stump field on the hillside. Notice the lake terracing effects of the gradual receding waters which were no doubt followed by snow and glacial build ups. One can only imagine how such an enormous extinction event not only wiped out all the rich biodiverse ancient life for good, but also entirely changing the weather dynamics permanently which presently prevents a re-occurrence of such life again.

Image - David Greenwood

The picture above is said to be Fossil Forest Hill which is the site of the ancient Redwood forest on the Island of Axel Heiberg, which the northern most region of the Canadian Archipelago. If you look vary closely, you'll see what is termed as 'Lake Terracing'. It's both breath taking in the sense of actually being there to see such an amazing fossil find and in a certain way sad as to realize what once was which is now gone as a result of a catastrophic event. It has been suggested that a powerful catastrophic event like a mega-tsunami riggered by massive volcanism snapped thees giant tree trucks in two like some match sticks and buried the majority of resulting 10,000+ logs and debris in what is called the Buchanon Lake Formation. Now back to the Göteborg Botanical Gardens and the Dawn Redwoods or Metasequoia.

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia) 
Göteborg Botanical Gardens
The example they have at the Botanical Gardens is by no means a giant of any sort, but beautiful none the less. Especially in the wet evergreen surroundings of other forests trees and herbaceous understory. It is located way in the back of the gardens among other like conifers. I really wished more people would use this as a landscape tree here, but I never see it sold anywhere in the plant Nurseries, or as the Swedes call them, Plantskola (literally translated as 'Plant School'). Don't ask, I have no clue why! Even still, it's a beautiful tree and I'll have to get back this coming Fall to see if I can actually catch a glimpse of the golden reddish Fall foliage. Remember, the Dawn Redwood unlike the two evergreen California native redwood species is a deciduous tree. There is a Nurseryman in New Mexico who has been successful growing these trees and somewhere in the Sauraton Mountains of North Carolina, lies the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, there is a private endeavor to re-establish a self regulating forest of meta-sequoia in the Appalachian region.

The upper tree canopy of the Metasequoia

Dawn Redwood - Göteborg Sweden

Example of the twisted furrowed patterns on this trees trunk. Very different from the deep straight furrowed look of the other Redwoods like the Coastal and Sierra Redwoods. In many ways it resembles more the Bald Swamp Cypress of the southern United States accept it have a more conical shape whereas the Swamp Cypress may be often more broadly crowned and multiple trunk or branched higher up the canopy. This is also seen from the very top photo of this post.

Metasequoia Leaves
The leaves however more closely resemble the California Coastal Redwood as opposed to the Sierra Redwood which are more Cypress or Juniper-like. They are also different however from the evergreen Coast Redwood in that this tree is deciduous and the leaves turn golden to red in the Fall and winter months it is completely bare. One of the more fascinating finds on Axel Heiberg Island was not just the 10,000+ logs and tree stumps they found, but also extremely well preserved forest floor tree liter with cones of various tree species. And it looks as fresh as when it first fell from the trees, take a look below.

Dr. Ken Hooper Virtual Natural History Museum  Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Canada

Fall Colouration
Take an example view of the Fall or Autumn  colouration before the onset of winter and the complete leaf fall. These are brilliantly coloured trees in the Fall. Incredibly there is a research fascility called Arboretum Tome in New Mexico which maintains 33 genetic lines of this tree and has successfully grown them for over 20 years. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University at Cambridge Massachusetts USA sent an expedition over to China to collect some of the seeds which were germinated and thereafter sample seedlings sent out to other Arboretae and Universities worldwide.  They (the seeds) weren't brought over to the United States until 1948 and problems developed after that with inbreeding as a result of lack genetic diversity. But further collections by those who have a fondness and love for this tree has changed that.

Dawn Redwood Grove in Fall Colour

This tree would be a challenge to grow in many of the drier locations on Earth, but possible given enough water and the proper biological organisms makeup of the soil they are in. The Los Lunas, New Mexico Nursery "Trees The Please" which is just south of Albuquerque is an excellent example of growing such trees in an otherwise challenging soil and climate environment. Please review some of the important and informative links below for further understanding of proper soil requirements and the ability to change saline and badly alkaline soils into a rich forested habitat by using biological processes which have the ability to digest, redistribute and to recreate the Earth into something extremely productive. Keep in mid that not everyone is on board with turning wastelands into natural productive ecosystems. Many environmental groups become viciously indignant aat the very thought of changing the status quo of any untouched wildland for the better. The Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona and one of it's main leaders and spokeman, Kieran Suckling viciously attack author, Fred Pearce, who wrote a wonderful piece in 2013 about the transformation of a true desert island, Ascension Island, where over the past 100+ years sailors & a well known British Botanist had brought and planted various plants on the bare island which moved up the mountain slopes and created a cloud forest. Previously little rain fell, but now they get precipitation and running streams where there was once nothing. The reason for the environmentalist anger ? They claimed certain native lichens, mosses and other small perennials would be wiped out and if Nature wanted a forest there, it would evolve one. This is complete nonsense. I was attacked by the Southern California Desert Protective Council who were livid that I would mention turning lifeless badlands into protective native plant ecosystems. There are many groups out there who think they know Science and what Earth needs, but the reality is they are mainly obsessed with a political ideology and worldview that views humans as a threat to the natural world. Of course they never view themselves as part of that threat, but only it's answer. In any event, I hope this spotlight on Metasequoia and how much humans have to go as far as learning about nature need to go.
Plant of the Month: Dawn Redwood
The Arboretum Tomé - Education Center
University of Cambridge Botanic Garden & Dawn Redwood


  1. I think I know that Tome and TTP place.....but watch out for Basques pimping oaks instead of aspens and lollipop trees. Next, they'll say cottonwoods are riparian and not high desert eco-natives!

    Great piece to learn from about that tree, and looks to be a good oasis tree here or other places. Like a hardier coast redwood as you note, though we can grow the coast redwood in Abq, too.

  2. The only thing about Coast Redwoods is that they DO NOT like extreme freezing cold. They are evergreen where the Dawn Redwood is dsciduous. Also, Coast redwood is use to a fog belt where air moisture is always available. They get needle burn in interior areas of southern California where it gets hot. Dawn Redwood is somewhat of a mystery for me in that climate, but I was fascinated by the Tome successes.


  3. I learned lots on this post. I love reading about trees that once were. Great story! I hope when he opens the place up that it's a hit because it really is a gorgeous tree.

    1. Yes it is an amazing tree. One I don't think would work in Tucson though. But then never would Mesquite work here.

      Have you ever heard of or seen that place in Tucson where Guerrllla Habitat Mesquite Planting is located ? That tree really have beautiful form. I have to believe that they came by and trimmed it once in a while.


    2. No, never. But I find out about things like this in my town from this great blog called Timeless Environments. Maybe you've heard of it?:) You have me curious.

      I'm just glad ANY trees can grow in this hostile environment:) So I'll take the Mesquite anyday. Actually we're pretty lucky to have a huge array of trees to choose from. I know you're a plant man and hope you'll have fun tonight/today with the pics I'll be posting. I had you in mind for the grassland mention a while back. I don't forget. There are skies for everyone else....but the plants in the background are for you to enjoy. The Buffalo Gourd was a great find as it's all over right now down in Sierra Vista. The pics were taken near the San Pedro river. I have a purple cactus bloom and pads pic but not of the entire I'll get to that request this weekend:) Hope you are well. Sending sunny thoughts your way. Chris

    3. I would really love to see some of the guerrilla landscaping that has gone on there. They (the folks behind the Art blogsite)are a bit mysterious as to who they are and where exactly those locations are, but I can understand that. The really sad thing is that people actually have to covertly do the right thing because in the real world such is clearly unpopular. I use to love doing that, but have refrained for some years now.

      The funny thing is I don't consider the Sonoran Desert a hostile environment anymore than the exact extreme opposite environment I presently reside in which during winter it could equally be considered yet another roadblock to life's existance.

      I have a question about the San Pedro area (Benson). I ran across a website dedicated to fighting the Interstate 10 Bypass which would run the river valley of the San Pedro north and tie into Phoenix cutting out time and milage and as usual I assume it has something stupid to do with commerce. Have you heard anymore about that ?


    4. No....I haven't heard much about this but I haven't been around Benson in awhile. But I'll look into it as I will the Guerilla warfare. I'm intrigued. Phoenix is good about destroying things but down here it's hit or miss. Benson is in one of those area. The locals like short cuts but the conservation minded try to block it....and it doesn't always work. Talk to you soon. Time to lecture...again!

  4. Wow, what a beautiful tree. And the fall shot is just beautiful. Gorgeous colors. The very first shot reminds me of a tree I have seen in Hawaii, I forget what the name was though. I just love trees. Wonderful post and photos.

    1. They definitely are an amazingly beautiful tree and one I probably wouldn't have ever paid attention to had I not moved here. Not that I had never heard of the tree, but I never considered myself living in an area where I would ever benefit from planting one.

      During the long winter months I started investigating it and found out about the ancient fossil record history of it's former glory and became even further intrigued. Your area would definitely be an ideal area for creating some woods with this tree.



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