This humble potted plant is a young Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and it is a truly ancient species, over 70 million years old. A product of the age when dinosaurs were the dominant species, the Dawn Redwood is one of the few plants that are prehistoric.
Believed extinct until found in 1941 (and here is where the trials of man cross paths with nature in a truly historic way), the Dawn Redwood was first rediscovered by Chinese researchers conducting surveys into largely uninhabited inner China in hopes of fleeing danger posed by the Japanese military. Primitive farmers of the region referred to the tree as Shui-sa (water fir).
Before the discovery, Dawn Redwood was believed to be extinct (fossils no more recent than 1.5 million years old had been unearthed). Samples were dispersed throughout the world (including the United States) and today any person with the room for these mighty trees can easily avail themselves a Dawn Redwood.