Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu & Cheng

TSO logo

Sponsor this page

For information about how you could sponsor this page, see How You Can Help


Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Metasequoia glyptostroboides' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2021-05-11.

Common Names

  • Water Fir
  • Shui-hsa

Other taxa in genus


    Female referring to female plants (dioecy) or flowers (monoecy) or the female parts of a hermaphrodite flower.
    (pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
    Situated in an axil.
    Leaf arrangement where the leaves are in opposite pairs each pair at right angles to the preceding pair (as e.g. the scale leaves of Cupressaceae).
    Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
    globularSpherical or globe-shaped.
    With male and female flowers on the same plant.
    Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
    Egg-shaped solid.
    A much-branched inflorescence. paniculate Having the form of a panicle.
    Unbranched inflorescence with flowers produced laterally usually with a pedicel. racemose In form of raceme.
    Lacking a stem or stalk.
    Male referring to male plants (dioecy) or flowers (monoecy) or the male parts of a hermaphrodite flower.


    There are no active references in this article.


    Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

    Recommended citation
    'Metasequoia glyptostroboides' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2021-05-11.

    A tree up to 115 ft high in the wild with a trunk about 612 to 912 ft in diameter at the base. Bark fissured, dark grey in colour, peeling off in old trees. Branches opposite, glabrous, green in the young state, turning brown later and becoming brownish grey in the second or third year. Lateral shoots deciduous in winter, glabrous, opposite, up to 214 in. long, arranged distichously, persistent buds at the base. Winter-buds ovoid or obtuse, 16 in. long, 18 in. wide, glabrous. Bracts decussate, broadly ovate, yellowish brown, paler and thinner on the margins. Leaves deciduous, opposite, arranged in two ranks, linear, 13 to 12 in. long, 124 to 112 in. wide, sessile or nearly sessile, blue-green above, light green below. Flowers monoecious, solitary; staminate flowers axillary and terminal about 15 in. long, in a raceme or panicle; bracts decussate, triangular-ovate or obovate. Pedicels about 18 in. long. Stamens twenty filaments short. Pistillate flowers solitary, about 13 in. long; bracts decussate, both sides glabrous, the lower ones triangular-ovate. Peduncles 18 in. long, leafy. Cones ripening in the first year, pendulous, sub-quadrangular-globose or shortly cylindric, 34 to 1 in. long, 23 to 910 in. wide, dark brown in colour. Seeds five to nine under each scale, winged, compressed, obovate, the apex notched, 15 in. long, 16 in. wide. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 716.

    The above description is based on that published in the Bulletin of the Fan Memorial Institute of Biology, New Series, Vol. i (1948), No. 2, p. 153.

    Native of China in a restricted locality on the borders of W. Hupeh and N.E. Szechwan, where it inhabits ravines and the banks of streams. It was first seen by a Chinese botanist in 1941 but specimens were not taken until about three years later; seeds werecollected in autumn 1947 and sent to the Arnold Arboretum, whence they were distributed to many gardens in America and Europe in 1948. In the second volume of the last edition of this work, published in 1951, it was stated that there were small trees at Kew and in the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley which, in 1949, at the end of their second season, were 3 to 4 ft high. Now, twenty years later, the tallest of the original trees at Kew measures 47 × 334 ft (1971) and at Wisley 49 × 214 ft (1968). Other trees from the original seed are: Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park, 51 × 234 ft (1967); Ladhams, Goudhurst, Kent, 46 × 334 ft (1967); Snowdenham House, Surrey, 40 × 2 ft (1964); Leonardslee, Sussex, 40 × 4 ft, 54 × 214 ft and 50 × 234 ft (1968); University Botanic Garden, Cambridge, 44 × 334 ft (Lake) and 41 × 3 ft (Frameyard) (1969); Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 44 × 334 ft (1969); Clare College, Cambridge, 46 × 334 ft (1969).

    Metasequoia glyptostroboides is perfectly hardy but is subject to damage by late spring frosts. It thrives best in a deep moderately moist soil and on dry sandy soil or shallow chalk it grows slowly. Although it will, perhaps, never make such a fine specimen tree as Taxodium distichum it is much faster growing and less demanding. The leaves are a pleasant soft green and turn foxy brown or pinkish brown before falling. It is easily propagated by half-ripe cuttings taken June to mid-August and placed in bottom heat, but hardwood cuttings will root in a cold frame (S. A. Pearce, Gard. Chron. (28 July 1956), pp. 86-87). If young plants make multiple leaders, as sometimes happens, the superfluous ones make excellent cutting material. Female cones are borne quite frequently, but there is so far no record of fertile seeds having been produced in Britain or indeed anywhere in the colder parts of Europe. The explanation appears to be that male cones, even if produced, do not ripen, either because the growing season is too short for their complete development, or because they are killed in winter. See further in: D. Wyman, ‘Metasequoia after twenty years in cultivation’, Journ. R.H.S., Vol.95 (1970), pp. 444-451 (reprinted from Arnoldia, Vol. 28 (1968), pp. 113-123).

    From the Supplement (Vol. V)

    The specimens listed are from the original introduction and were planted in 1949 or the early 1950s: Kew, by Lily Pond, 79 × 714 ft (1984); Richmond, Terrace Garden, 72 × 412 ft and, by Tow Path, 69 × 434 ft (1984); Richmond Park, Isabella Garden, 62 × 412 ft (1984); Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon, London, 81 × 412 ft (1985); Hampton Court, Surrey, 52 × 5 ft (1981); Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park, 88 × 514 ft (1984); Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden, Wisley, Surrey, in Woodland Garden, 85 × 534 ft (1984) and, on Battleston Hill, 74 × 412 ft (1981); Riverside Walk, Esher, Surrey, 60 × 634 ft (1981); Snowdenham House, Surrey, 74 × 614 ft and 68 × 634 ft (1981); Ladham House, Kent, 69 × 714 ft (1984); Leonardslee, Sussex, Bank, 75 × 612 ft, Dell, 71 × 7 ft and 79 × 434 ft, Rock Garden, 50 × 7 ft (1984); Nymans, Sussex, Magnolia Garden, 72 × 6 ft and, near Pinetum, 60 × 6 ft (1983); Alice Holt Lodge, Hants, 46 × 7 ft (1984); Upper Park, Bournemouth, a new discovery, 80 × 912 ft (1985); Stourhead, Wilts., 69 × 614 ft (1984); Bath Botanic Garden, 52 × 512 ft (1984); Cockington Court, Devon, 72 × 634 ft (1984); Killerton, Devon, 75 × 514 ft (1983); Bicton, Devon, American Garden, 70 × 514 ft (1983); Oxford Botanic Garden, 64 × 7 ft (1983); University Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Lake (east), 69 × 712 ft, Lake (north), 65 × 414 ft, Frameyard, 56 × 514 ft (1984); Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 62 × 634 ft (1981); Clare College, Cambridge, 54 × 6 ft (1981); Hodnet Hall, Shrops., 56 × 6 ft (1984); Tatton Park, Ches., 72 × 534 ft (1983, meas. M. Frankis); Muncaster Castle, Cumb., 62 × 514 ft (1984); Clyne Castle, nr Swansea, 54 × 534 ft (1982); Singleton Abbey, Swansea, 68 × 534 ft (1982); The Gliffaes Hotel, Powys, 46 × 534 ft (1984); Bodnant, Gwyn., largest of several 69 × 734 ft (1984); Castle Kennedy, Wigt., 52 × 412 ft (1984).

    For measurements of some trees in the eastern USA see The Garden (Journ. R.H.S.), Vol. 107, p. 249 (1982). Three of those listed there (measured 1981) were 100 ft or slightly more in height and several are 9 ft or more in girth.

    A reintroduction to Britain from the native stands in Hupeh promises to be of even faster growth than the original. Four seedlings received at Kew from the Forestry Commission in 1980 were planted out in 1983. One of two planted at the near end of the Lake measures 14 ft × 10 in. at 4 ft (autumn, 1986).