Some Coniferous Trees are Deciduous. Mind blown.

I heard a tree mentioned in a Nova episode called Metasequoia or “Dawn Redwood”. The first sentence on Wikipedia’s Metasequoia page is:

Metasequoia (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), or dawn redwood, is a fast-growing deciduous tree, one of three species of conifers known as redwoods, and the sole living species in its genus.

Wait, what? Am I reading this right? I didn’t realize a tree could be both, always had those separated in my mind. I go to the deciduous page and confirm that means the leaves fall off, good, good. Then I go to the conifers page and to save time I search the page for “deciduous”. I see one mention:

In the great majority of genera the leaves are evergreen, usually remaining on the plant for several (2–40) years before falling, but five genera (Larix, Pseudolarix, Glyptostrobus, Metasequoia and Taxodium) are deciduous, shedding the leaves in autumn and leafless through the winter.

The rest of the Metasequoia article has fascinating info. It even mentions their fossils have been found as far north as Ellesmere Island in Canada in the Arctic when it was warm and tropial just as the Nova episode showed. That Nova was called “Polar Extremes” by the way, it was a hell of a show.


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