Giant Sequoias and Coast Redwoods

Giant Sequoias, or Sierra redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum), still grow in a handful of high altitude groves in central California. The General Sherman, at over 55,000 cubit feet of volume (that’s enough wood to build an entire subdivision), is the largest living thing on earth. The Sherman is 274 feet tall, 37 feet at base diameter, and about 2,500 years old (some sequoias may reach 310 feet in height and 3,500 years in age).

The bark of sequoias can grow up to 3 feet thick, which helps protect it from fire, while the high tannin content helps protect it from pests. The General Grant, at 40 feet base diameter, is the broadest, single-trunk tree in the world. Those were real trees the Ewoks lived in in the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi.

Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) thrive along the coast of northern California. Though not as large (up to 37,000 cubit feet) or as long-lived (up to 2,200 years) as their Sierra Nevada cousin, redwoods grow taller. At 379 feet, the Hyperion Redwood is the tallest known living tree on earth. Once redwoods grew larger than sequoias; much larger.

The Crannell Creek Giant may have had 70,000 cubit feet of wood, while the Lindsey Creek Redwood, 90,000 cubit feet; that’s almost twice as big as the largest known sequoia (General Sherman)! But that was before 95% of their original range was gutted. Redwoods are able to survive the long dry summers by trapping in their foliage hundreds of gallons of water from the fog each day.

Let us examine several of these colossal trees in the slideshow below (photos copyright Randy Cyr). 

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