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Why is my Dawn Redwood tree browning?

By October 18, 2023 No Comments

Do we have a problem?

The owner of this young Dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) started panicking when his prized tree showed signs of browning. Now what? People on Facebook offered lots of advice, as they often do.

My own comments were about the tree well. I would enlarge it to keep lawn care machines away from the tree; and to allow the tree to collect water and nutrients. It’s good to keep grass away from your tree because it’s a tough competitor. Sometimes trees planted in lawns don’t thrive; all you get is status quo.

Another obvious issue is water and proper planting. Was the tree planted properly at grade and watered in? Is it getting enough water right now? Or too much?

Since the owner cuts his own grass he’s confident there hasn’t been any damage done to the tree by lawn care machines. Of course, we know well that even professionals can make mistakes.

The key?

Then one lady correctly observed that Dawn redwoods are deciduous so you can expect their needles to turn orange before dropping to the ground. Bald cypress is another evergreen that loses its needles. Which means that the owner shouldn’t be panicking. The tree is doing its thing: as fall approaches its needles start to change color. If the tree pushes out new needles next year, life is good.

Dawn redwood

According to my internet search, Dawn redwoods were first identified from fossil records. But then in the 1940s, live specimens were found in China. Today we see the trees planted in our British Columbia landscapes.

Early into my stint at my current day job company, the boss took me into a strata section and asked me to identify beautiful evergreen specimens. I didn’t skip a beat: Metasequioa glyptostroboides! Impressed, my boss and co-workers didn’t know that, purely by coincidence, I had read an article about the trees the night before. Now whenever I encounter these trees I think of this day and laugh.

If you have lots of space in your garden you can’t go wrong by planting one of these trees. The bark is beautiful. And remember, when the needles turn orange and fall to the ground you don’t have a problem. Dawn redwoods are deciduous.

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