Often confused for one another given their similar appearances, there are a number of differences between the dawn redwood vs bald cypress. But how can you learn how to tell these two trees apart? And which tree is ideal for your backyard or landscaping project? There may be more differences between these two trees than you originally thought!
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about the dawn redwood and the bald cypress so that you can recognize which one is which. In addition, we will give you some tips as to how these two trees prefer to grow, in case you are interested in planting one for yourself. Let’s get started and learn all about these beauties now!
Comparing Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress
|Reaches an average of 60-165 feet tall, though could grow taller. Changes colors with the seasons, and the needles are long and flat in a distinct green shade, growing opposite one another. Trunk can bow out at the bottom if grown near water.
|Reaches 30-125 feet tall on average. Unique root and trunk systems allow this tree to grow in swamps or along riverbanks. Needles are lacy and long, turning colors before falling each winter, and they grow in an alternating fashion. Bark is gray-brown in color.
|Perfect for parks and large estates, as these trees are too big for the average backyard
|The heartwood of this particular tree resists many forms of decay, making it ideal for construction work
|Hardiness Zones and Care
|4-8; highly adaptable, but needs full sun in order to grow tall. Can grow near swamps or other moist areas
|4-10; enjoys moist but well-drained soil, though adapts well to sandy or drier soil. Prefers full sun over shady conditions
|Went extinct for a period of time, but dates back to the Mesozoic Era!
|Called “bald” because it sheds its needles in the fall!
Key Differences Between Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress
There are a number of key differences between the dawn redwood and the bald cypress. Despite belonging to the same plant family (Cupressaceae), the dawn redwood and the bald cypress belong to very different plant genera. In addition, dawn redwood needles grow opposite one another, while bald cypress needles grow in an alternating pattern. Finally, bald cypress trees grow shorter compared to the towering dawn redwood tree.
Let’s take a look at these differences and a few others in more detail now.
Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress: Classification
While these trees look shockingly similar, the dawn redwood and the bald cypress belong to different plant genera. It’s important to note that they belong to the same plant family known as Cupressaceae. However, their genera are different from one another.
For example, the dawn redwood is classified as Metasequoia glyptostroboides, while the bald cypress is classified as Taxodium distichum. This is because the dawn redwood belongs to a specific Sequoia tree subfamily (Sequoioideae). Bald cypresses belong solely to the Cypress family.
Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress: Description
Bald cypresses and dawn redwoods are unique in the fact that they are both capable of growing near water, including swamps and ponds. Their trunks and roots bow out toward the bottom, allowing for airflow and root oxygenation. However, there are a number of physical differences between dawn redwoods and bald cypresses.
For example, the dawn redwood grows taller compared to the average bald cypress. These trees are as tall as 165 feet compared to the average cypress, which reaches 125 feet. In addition, the needles of the dawn redwood grow in an opposite arrangement compared to the alternating needles of the bald cypress. Finally, the bark of the dawn redwood is reddish-brown. The bark of the bald cypress is grayish-brown.
Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress: Uses
When it comes to the uses of these two trees, there are some key differences. For example, bald cypresses are used frequently in construction work due to the disease resistance of the heartwood of this tree. Dawn redwoods are considered a threatened species and not often used to build things.
In addition, dawn redwood trees are ideally used in large settings given just how big they can grow. But bald cypresses are planted in more settings overall. The bald cypress is more narrow compared to the dawn redwood, so it gives you more opportunities to plant them!
Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress: Hardiness Zones and Care
The care of the dawn redwood and the bald cypress overlaps somewhat. However, the bald cypress grows in more Hardiness Zones compared to the dawn redwood. For example, the dawn redwood grows best in Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. The bald cypress grows best in Hardiness Zones 4 through 10. Both of these trees prefer full sunlight in order to thrive and grow tall. They are also both highly adaptable to moist conditions.
Dawn Redwood vs Bald Cypress: Special Features
Both of these trees are extremely unique and special given how they adapt to growing in swampy or watery environments. In addition, The dawn redwood and the bald cypress both lose their needles during late fall, which is why the bald cypress is named such. You may not know this, but the dawn redwood is technically an ancient species of tree with fossil records dating back to the Mesozoic Era. This is something that the bald cypress does not share with it.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/y-studio
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