Types of redwoods
There are three kinds of true redwoods alive today. Two are native to California:
- Sequoiadendron giganteum, the Giant Sequoia, is the most massive tree in the world.
- Sequoia sempervirens, the Coast Redwood, is the tallest tree in the world.
The third was thought to be extinct, until it was discovered in central China:
- Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the Dawn Redwood (my second-favorite tree)
The above dawn redwood is in the San Francisco botanical garden. The needles are an unusually bright yellow-green, and very soft to the touch.
Redwoods are members of the cypress family, Cupressaceae. They have stringy bark (as do most cypresses). Dawn and coast redwoods have needle-like leaves, and giant sequoias have awl-shaped (pointy) leaves. Dawn redwoods are one of few deciduous conifers.
I tried to grow a dawn redwood from seeds once, but was unsuccessful. You have to refrigerate the seeds for a couple of weeks in damp soil, but nothing had germinated even after a month of waiting. According to the Internet, cones should be fresh (mine wasn’t), but I don’t really see how seeds germinate in the wild if this is true.