Biology's Metasequoia tree breathes new life into Gleave Library

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Biology Meta table

The much-anticipated “Meta” tables located in the Gleave Library.

Guest Post by Chris Dupont

In 2013, Biology lost two magnificent and much-admired trees - a Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, and a gingko tree.

Both trees were harvested to make room for the new Science Teaching Complex.

While the prevailing sentiment at the time was certainly excitement for the new building, others wanted to ensure that the felled Metasequoia would be put to good use.

Happily, the Biology Metasequoia tree now exists as a stunning pair of matching tables in the Gleave Library, which were installed in the Gleave Library in late December.

The tables were designed and built from live edge planks in December 2014 by Guelph artist Erik Van Miltenburg, of Metrik Studio

So, why all the fuss about this tree and the resulting tables?

In 1948, an expedition to China identified living specimens of M. glyptostroboides, which is an ancient tree species known only from fossils that were first described in 1941.

Seeds collected from the 1948 expedition were grown into trees at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Seeds from the trees grown at Harvard were then collected by Ron Eydt and brought back to the University of Waterloo. 

M. glyptostroboides was native to Canada during the Miocene (~ 23 – 5 million years ago) and earlier, but went extinct due to climate change.

Our M. glyptostroboides was planted outside Biology shortly after the completion of B2 in 1967. The species is now available from local nurseries and is an example of a "living fossil”. It is sometimes called “Dinosaur tree”.

Many will be pleased to know that technician Lynn Hoyles, who manages the greenhouse and department-owed growth chambers, took 63 cuttings of the original tree. One of these cuttings took and is being nurtured in the Biology greenhouse.

Unfortunately, after a year of fast growth, the tree is currently looking more than a little worse for wear. Only time will tell whether the tree is a) dead, or b) in a winter dormancy period. Undeterred by minor setbacks, Lynn took yet more cuttings, and at least one of these is doing well. Hopefully, our tree will live on campus once again.

The Meta Table will be dedicated to Andrei Anghel, a third year medical student who graduated from Biomedical Sciences in 2012. He was on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, which was tragically shot down en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukraine, July 17, 2014.

Andrei is fondly remembered by many of his instructors. The much-used Gleave library Meta table will be a fitting way to remember him. 

Meta table close up

  1. 2017 (1)
  2. 2015 (2)
  3. 2012 (1)