Taxodium distichum vs. Metasequoia glyptostroboides

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)March 26, 2011

Besides the technical differences does one demand a stronger presence than the other?

I'm debating between adding both or chosing one (I have a couple cultivars of each on my wishlist to check out later).

I originally had Taxodium distichum on the list for this spring but while at the nursery today the orangish brown bark of the Metasequoia glyptostroboides was so vivid!

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

The case for one:
Metasequoia is quite the specimen and Ogon borders on the ridiculous attention getter! I can see where either could not be the correct choice though.

Regular Dawn Redwoods if you leave the lower branches on are prone to get them fluted trunks. At the Missouri Botanical Garden they have several with examples what to expect. I LOVE the bark and this feature. I can see where in a polite dainty yard this might not be ideal. Then again I love it. Make sure you Google Metasequoia so you know what you just might get. Nothing like it in the world.

In my limited experience it seems the trunks of Metasequoias which have been limbed up are virtually identical to Taxodium trunks.

The oppositely arranged foliage of Metasequoia seems slightly superior. The organization is pleasing somehow.

All three Ogon's I have ever seen in person are thinner than the species. None were particularly old, the tallest about fifteen feet or so, the size of my "big" main species Dawn Redwood. It was thinner than my tree is now. The Ogon I planted two falls ago doubled in size to about 6 feet (2 meters Resin!) over one summer. It is thinner growing than my other tree as well.

Also Dawn Redwood is more of a conversation piece. The fossils, the rediscovery, Red China, it being near extinct in the wild. I have thought about collecting a fossil of a 50 million old one so folks would ask.

********************
Bald Cypress is prone to them knees if you have a pond to put one next to (I don't think you do). Those are impressive in their own right.

The trunk is always attractive but not quite the attention getter Metasequoia is. Of course it is more polite. I can see where if you are going for that white glove polite look and want branches down to the ground this could be preferable.

I suspect you can find Taxodiums from a local source so they SHOULD be cold hardy for you. Metasequoia branches out soo early. Both mine have expanding buds covered by snow tonight. Of course this is a fairly unique winter for zone 6.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 11:05PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I was surprised to hear that Metasequoia glyptostroboides is more cold hardy than Taxodium distichum.

Is that right?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 4:46PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I dunno. Not like I drive around and check. Just seems Metasequoia leafs out awful early to really be zone 4 hardy. Ken has at least one he has said gets some frost damage every spring. Isn't he the same zone as you whaas?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 7:40PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

It appears both Bald Cypress and Dawn Redwood are hardy to about -30.

Although there are many many sources that they say to -20.

I just saw that new post in the trees forum...I didn't know they leafed out early. I think I'm just going to give the DR a shot for now.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:11PM
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noki

Try Metasequoia, such a cool tree. Does pretty well in Ohio. It does leaf out too early sometimes, but still grows quickly.

Taxodium also is cool. Doesn't always grow all that great in clay soil in the city thou. Actually leafs out rather late.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:56PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

You thinking about planting a main species tree or one of the cultivars?

It isnt that common and is unique so you you dont have to go grab an unknown cultivar to have an attention getter.

I have one regular metasequoia and one 'Ogon'. That yellow tree is BRIGHT! Mine out on 3feet if growth, more than I expected from a yellow needled tree.

If memory serves I have read about more narrow cultivars and some white spotted or tipped ones.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 8:27AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Taxoidum distichum 'Mickelson' aka "Shawnee Brave" has good dimensions for home landscapes. I have (7) of them I like the tree so well, and it adds fall color (sure Taxodium's all look good)... Metasequoia - not even comparable to fall color.

Dax

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:09AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Taxodium distichum tends to get multiple leaders and that can be a problem if you live where it snows. Dawn Redwood doesn't have that problem as far as I've seen.

Fall color seems to be a toss up between the two. I slightly favor the Dawn Redwood, although Larix has them both beat in my opinion.
Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: Taxoidum distichum in my garden with Larix

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 12:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

six of this.. half dozen of the other..

i get snow.. no multi leader issues ... they have no needles.. what will the snow hang on .... no ice damage in the horrible ice storm we had a few weeks back ...

in the very long run.. Mg has a much more interesting bark/trunk ...

no idea on named varieties ...

Mg tends to bud out early .. and get hit by frost.. and recovers.. just about every year ...

otherwise.. what they said

ken

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 12:57PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

What Metasequoia (seedlings) will grow to:

If you jam them in with other trees make sure the other trees have fast growth rates to keep up with Metasequoia so they don't become, shaded-out.

Jamming them in is normal. That's just my way of stating how they should be grown in a border with plants of similar growth rates.

One of my favorite Metasequoia cultivars that would work very well for this situation is 'Waasland'.

Dax

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey is that the one at hidden lakes.. about 2 miles from the harper collection???

ken

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:50PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

IMO the fall color of Metasequoia tends to be SLIGHTLY more peach.

At least based on my St Louis and Kansas City observations, I would not pick one over the other based on fall color though.

botann, do you get snow on a regular basis while Taxodium is in leaf? I have seen FEW with multiple leaders here. Most are park trees so they don't get the best of care.

whaas, if you were zone 4 I would entirely recommend a Larch. Saw one at MOBOT and found it quite pleasing. Could tell it was not as happy in its tight spot in humid St Louis as the Metasequoias and Taxodium were.

Here is a link that might be useful: Larix laricina

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:36PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Larch are spectacular. If you want a Larix kaempferi whaas just ask, I'll send you one in a priority tube, you pay me back for the ship. I have some vigorous ones 1 meter+.

Ken, that's the one. That thing is huge. It's equally as wide as tall.

Dax

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:40PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

All, thanks for the info...

I can't say I've seen many (if any) of either tree in my area, My neighbor at my previous home had a Bald Cypress and its a very slow grower (I heard this from growers in the area as well - its has to be the clay soil).

The DR isn't even grown around her but a couple nurseries order from other growers in the midwest, hence the 6 footer I tagged the other day. I'll get a snapshot in a week or so. It only had buds on it, they weren't quite swelling yet.

I would be planting it if the FREAKING GROUND WOULD THAW! Its been in the teens overnight for about a week now. My biggest landscape plan to date and old man winter still has spring in a headlock....I can't get anytype of jump start here!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:41PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Hey Dax, I'm not very familar with Larix kaempferi.

Looks like they get super wide too! I have an alkaline soil that is somewhat sandy and rocky.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:48PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Taxodium grows medium to faster here and most of our soils are clay base. Especially near lakes it speeds up.

Interesting the climate difference.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 5:53PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

BTW .. got my Td from biglot.. a 6 foot stick in a two gal peat pot stuck in a plastic bag ... for about 10 bucks ...

neither is as rare or mysterious as you might think ... in fact there is a post in the tree forum where someone is offering to give some babes away ...

both trees grow rather fast once established.. i wouldnt go paying hundreds for a plant ....

ken

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 9:22AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

They grow fast whaas - Larix kaempferi. If you still want one, just let me know... then again I didn't realize you purchased already a Metasequoia.

Dax

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 9:23AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Hey, thats me giving some away! I would offer to mail one up but you can get one professionally mailed for about fifteen bucks.

But if you are in st louis soon come get one! We are using them as a promotional giveaway at work now.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 12:48PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I was just at Creve Coeur Park today looking at all the single leader Taxodium planted near the lake. Most are just now breaking dormancy. Both my Metasequoias are a week or so ahead of them.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 11:31PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Toronado, no I don't regularly get snow while the Bald Cypress is in leaf. Our heavy, wet snows and ice split it apart at a narrow crotch after the needles fell. There is another narrow crotch further up and it will more than likely break in a few years. I probably should have watched it closer and cut them out as soon as I could. The area where it is planted got ahead of me for a few years and the brush, and blackberries just about took over before I could get back to clean them out.
Here's a picture of it.

The foliage at the top is a Larix. It too was damaged because I planted it too close to a row of Thuja plicatas. It leaned out looking for light and caught more ice than it could handle. I'll know better next time.
Mike

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 5:15AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Taxodium mucronatum may grow faster than metasequoia glyptostroboides in the far south. I suppose I will find out by the end of fall since there are some to compare. So far, lack of rainfall in Texas isn't helping very much. 95% of Texas are under drought already. I like the weepy form of T. mucronatum. I have this seedling with nice red fall color so I am keeping an eye on this one. Some of cypress trees can produce spectacular fall color!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:30PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I planted my 6 footer about a week ago and the buds aren't even swelling yet. Where the heck is spring!!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:53PM
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cypressknee(8b)

Both are great trees. I have hundreds of taxodium planted and a nice little grove of dawn redwoods started.

I agree that the fall foliage of dawn redwoods tend to have more of a peach or apricot color whereas bald cypress can turn a beautiful rusty red.

Dawn redwoods seem to me to generally be a faster grower than bald cypress. I do have a bald cypress I planted as a bare-root one year old seedling in 3/81 that is now 75+ feet in height and probably 20 inches dbh. So bald cypress can grow pretty well.

I totally disagree with the notion that dawn redwoods have a much more interesting trunk and bark. That seems to be the conventional wisdom, haha, passed along all over the place by people who maybe just have not seen enough bald cypress. I have observed thousands of bald cypress, planted and in their natural habitat, and some of the fluting and buttressing of the trunks can be fantastic. I need to bring a camera along to build up a portfolio to show how special some bald cypress trunks can be. It is thought that some of the incredible fluting of bald cypress in areas subject to floods is actually an adaptation to give more surface area to a trunk, thereby helping the trunk absorb more oxygen. At the same time, I have observed planted cypress in drier areas also developing beautiful fluting of the base.

Like I said, both trees are great. Plant them both.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 10:54PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

cypressknee - these are the native distichum in southern IL.

Dax

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 6:06AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

*****
* Posted by toronado3800 Z6 St. Louis (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 26, 11 at 23:05

The case for one:
Metasequoia is quite the specimen and Ogon borders on the ridiculous attention getter! I can see where either could not be the correct choice though.

Regular Dawn Redwoods if you leave the lower branches on are prone to get them fluted trunks.
****

Definitely. My mail-order Dawn redwood bare-root stick planted in 2004 now has a trunk dia of 11 inches (28 cm) at the ground (& 25' tall), a bigger trunk than any other of my planted trees. But it tapers quite rapidly going up.

However, IMHO, Bald cypress foliage is superior -- finer textured & from a distance looks like a green, wispy cloud.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:20AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

cypressknee -

The bald cypress in central Texas growing along the river seem to be different. The knees aren't as pronounced as the ones in the east. Guadalupe river about 30 miles north of San Antonio where it is a very popular place for tubing is lined with big bald cypress trees growing right into limestone bedrock. Frio River through Garner State Park is another spectacular place to check them out. No pronounced knees either.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:10PM
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scotjute

Incidentally the Tx hill-country bald cypress variety lou mentions (I have 2 from Guadalupe River) leaf out about 3 weeks earlier than the bald cypress I have from Arbor Day planted about 24' away. It also has greener (darker)foliage and is currently growing faster than Arbor Day (in Blackland clay soil). When you see them both, it is a clearly superior tree in this environment.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:02PM
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cypressknee(8b)

Dax....great photos! I assume those are from the Cache River lowlands of Illinois. Hope to get there one day.

Lou...I've been to the Guadalupe River and seen some of those great cypress. Absolutely agree that the cypress of the bayous in Louisiana have many more knees. My theory is that the flowing waters of those beautiful Texas hill country rivers is much more oxygenated than sluggish bayous farther east, thus the cypress has less need for knees.

This theory could be all wet as I'm not sure it has ever been conclusively proven that the purpose of the knees is to gather oxygen.

I've measured knees in Louisiana over 9 feet tall. The knees can have fantastic shapes in their own right.

Garner Park is definitely on my list. I've seen photos of some those big boys there.

Wonderful, primitive tree, taxodium distichum!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:13PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

That is the place cypressknee. Bring a beekeeper's hat along, the mosquitos are fierce. Then again, I'll bet you already own one and have a spare in your vehicle.

Dax

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 6:27PM
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cavanee

Might be a dumb question, but how do you tell the two apart. I used to work in a garden ctr 20 odd yrs ago and we had both. Now I'm looking at buying a lot in New Orleans with two trees that are definitely either Bald Cypress or Dawn Redwood. Thinking just due to locale that they are cypresses...but I'm not sure. Help me out here!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 5:14PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Dawn redwood foliage is oppositely arranged where bald cypress is a unique spiral.

Dawn redwood needles seem slightly larger also.

Generally I assume bald cypress is what I see as they probably outnumber dawn redwood 10,000 to 1 even in neighborhoods. I know a gal who'se mother has a good fifty foot metasequoia in the yard of a house she just bought though. Quite a bonus.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:28AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

This is bald cypress with not even a hint of knees anywhere not too far from me in central Texas. It's getting water from underground spring water. Massive BCs there. You'd never think there would be such large trees there due to climate type.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 6:36PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

These bald cypress trees tend to have "lava-like" root system over bed rocks nearby springs.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 6:38PM
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subtropix

Regarding the distinction between the two, Toronado is correct. It works to easily identify even the tiniest specimens. So, if you see the needles growing opposite each other (in pairs), it's a Dawn Redwood. (See this in the picture in the above post of one in Autumn color.) In Bald Cypress, the needles will grow alternately (not in opposite pairs). Also, as said above, the needles on DR are somewhat longer (and coarser), shorter (and daintier) on BC.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:46AM
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texjagman(7A)

I have a young Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Ogon', located about 40' from a Taxodium distichum and love them together. The 'Ogon almost glows against the full green backdrop of the Taxodium.

Mark

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 4:10PM
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subtropix

Okay, one additional plus on the DR side. I am siting on my rear deck in plain view of a relatively, recently planted DR. Besides being able to climb it w.i. my lifetime, I notice that the foliage sways and resonants in the wind, much as it did for the running bamboo (which was finally eradicated). Tex, these are two of my favorite trees in the world, no doubt. I get it!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 4:34PM
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