tree in Edward’s Gardens

(Question)

Hello!
I have a question about identifying a tree I saw when I went for a walk in Edward’s Gardens last week. I called the park and they suggested I email you for help identifying it. I entered the park from Post Road, next to the Children’s Teaching Garden. On the other side of the path was an unusual tree I have never seen before – it was conical in shape like a confer but was obviously deciduous, and had a reddish bark similar to cedar. It also had small (around 1 inch) seed cones and another long, thin reproductive part. I have attached pictures of all this.
Thank you for your help!

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(Answer)

This an interesting question, I think what you may have been looking at was some kind of larch. Larch trees are deciduous, turn yellow in the fall and lose their leaves/needles. They produce small cones like other evergreens. There are many different varieties, including our native larch: Larix laricina (also known as Tamarack). You will find them growing naturally here in Ontario, near water such as lakes and bogs.

https://ontariotrees.com/main/species.php?id=2054

It is also possibly the more rare Dawn Redwood, (Metasequoia glyptostroboides):

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a396

which has a few representatives in Toronto.  It is a very large tree at maturity, suitable specimens for parks and botanic gardens.

A final possibility is the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), not very common but similar in appearance and stature to the Dawn Redwood:

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=m510

Bald Cypress are endemic to Southern swamps and are distinguishable by their knobby knee like roots which protrude above the water where they are growing.