Imagine being around at the time of the dangerous Tyrannosaurus Rex, the leaf-eating Brachiosaurus and the armored Stegosaurus. Imagine living and thriving during this time, witnessing the end of the dinosaurs and then boom – you mysteriously vanish and the world believes you to be extinct.
This is exactly what happened to the Dawn Redwood, a beautiful and somewhat strange tree. During the Tertiary Period, these trees were widespread, covering much of North America, parts of Europe and Asia. However, something happened that caused what we thought was their extinction. Only fossils have been found in the Northern Hemisphere.
To this day, only 15 species of Redwood still exist, so it’s not too surprising that the Dawn Redwood was one of the many Redwoods to have suffered. What is surprising though, is that in 1944, they were found growing in a small rural part of China! Scientists got excited and collected to seeds to distribute to areas where fossils had originally been found.
With low genetic diversity due to their small population numbers and a fragmented habitat, it may be difficult to keep these trees surviving, but scientists and tree-lovers alike are trying! Today in the US you can find these Dawn Redwoods in botanical gardens, a few tree distributors (like Highland Hill Farms in Doylestown, PA), and now at Bucks County Audubon Society! Thanks to Highland Hill Farms, BCAS will now be home to more than 20 Dawn Redwoods and hopefully, with the planting efforts of people like you during our Earth Day Festival (April 22nd, 2017 – 11am-4pm), school groups, families, and volunteers, we will be able to maintain a successful population of these endangered trees! It is our goal to successfully care for these trees and to encourage the next generation to help maintain the forests here at BCAS!
If we succeed and the Dawn Redwoods thrive here, they will be a very important part of the ecosystem here. They are able to tolerate pollution and are supposedly deer resistant, meaning that we will be able to enhance the understory of our chomped-down forests. Once they grow a little more (which happens quickly if planted correctly), they will be able to provide a valuable winter cover for birds and small mammals.
For more information about Dawn Redwoods and BCAS, click on these links!