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Facts About Sequoia Trees (Giant Redwood) With Amazing Pictures

Facts About Sequoia Trees (Giant Redwood)
That the largest living thing in the world is a tree. This might come as a surprise for you, but it's a fact. On an average, these trees are as tall as a 26-story building in your neighborhood, while some extend well beyond that too. Meet the sequoia trees, A.K.A. giant redwoods, the skyscrapers of mixed evergreen forests.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
Did You Know?
There is a branch of botany called dendrometry, which studies various dimensions of trees, including their height, diameter, and volume.
Back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, the landscape of our planet was dominated by gigantic Sequoiadendrons, or sequoias. That they were found all over the Northern Hemisphere may seem too good to be true, considering that the species is restricted to a part of North America as of today. But that was indeed the case around 200 million years ago.

Since then, the Sequoiadendron chaneyi, which is considered the predecessor of the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), has become extinct, and thus, the giant sequoia has become the only surviving species in this genus. That does explain why the term sequoia, which should be ideally used for trees belonging to genus Sequoiadendron, has become synonymous to the giant sequoia off late.
Giant Sequoia Tree Facts
The General Sherman
The General Sherman
Giant sequoias are also known by other common names, such as the giant redwood―the most common of them all, Sierra redwood, Sierran redwood, and Wellingtonia. The name giant redwood may ring some bells, because the species shares the name redwood with two other cypresses: the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).
In 1853, English botanist John Lindley named the species Wellingtonia gigantea. What he didn't realize was that the name Wellingtonia had already been used for another species. While the mistake was eventually rectified, the name remained.
Though this is an issue of contention, it is believed that Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher named the species sequoia after Cherokee silversmith and inventor of Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah, in 1987.
As far as the natural distribution of giant sequoias is concerned, it is restricted to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, where these giants are found in groves, at an elevation of 4,500 - 7,500 ft.
Yosemite national park
Mariposa grove in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park.
There are 68 giant sequoia groves in this region, covering approximately 35,600 acres of land. (Yet another issue of contention, considering that some sources identify more than 70 sequoia groves in this region.)
The largest grove of giant sequoia is the Redwood Mountain Grove in Kings Canyon National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument. It is home to the largest living tree in the world, the General Sherman.
With a height in the range of 230 - 280 ft., and a diameter in the range of 16 - 23 ft., giant sequoias boast of being the largest trees in the world. Interestingly, that also makes them the largest living thing in the world.
With a height of 311 ft. and width of 56 ft., the General Sherman is the largest giant sequoia tree ever recorded. It is, in fact, the largest living single-stem tree in terms of wood volume and mass, on the planet.
William Tecumseh Sherman
General William Tecumseh Sherman, after whom the General Sherman is named.
It was renowned naturalist James Wolverton who named this tree General Sherman, after American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, under whom he had served during the war.
General Sherman was declared the largest tree in the world in 1931, after measurements revealed that it was slightly larger than General Grant, which was until then considered the largest giant sequoia.
Giant sequoias prefer humid climate, with typically dry summers and snowy winters. So, California, with its mixed evergreen forests, is a perfect location for them.
Hiking in Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park - One of the best places to see giant redwoods.
At full growth, sequoia trees require large amounts of water. They rely on capillary action to absorb water from the ground and take it to extreme heights. Beyond that point, they rely on their aerial roots to absorb water from fog.
Giant sequoias are also among the oldest living things found on the planet. On the basis of ring count, the oldest sequoia ever recorded was Muir Snag, in the Converse Basin grove in the Sequoia National Forest. It was believed to be 3,500 years old when it died.
Then there are other considerably old giant sequoias in the world. The Chicago Stump, which is what remains of the General Noble that stood tall in the Giant Sequoia National Monument before it was cut down in 1892, indicates that the tree was 3,200 years old.
Tunnel in sequoia
One of the many sequoia tree tunnels that you come across in the US.
In order to popularize national parks, tunnels were cut through these gigantic trees at one point of time. While these tunnels continue to attract tourists, authorities have discontinued this approach citing the threat it poses to these redwood giants.
The wood of the giant sequoia is fibrous and brittle, and therefore, unsuitable for construction. Therefore, the use of these giant redwood trees is primarily restricted to tourism, with millions of people visiting sequoia groves for a glimpse of these giants.
There is no questioning the fact that sequoias are gigantic. On an average, they are as tall as 26-story buildings, and furthermore, at 311 ft., the tallest giant sequoia is as good as a 30-story building. However, if you look at pictures of these giant redwoods, they don't come across as unusually tall, and that can be attributed to the fact that they are surrounded by species which are considerably large in themselves. Sequoias may not boast of being tallest or widest, but largest, they definitely are.