Redwood trees thrive along California's northern Pacific Coast up to the southwestern corner of Oregon. The gigantic trees thrill people who look up through the soaring branches reaching hundreds of feet in height or try to wrap their arms around the gigantic trunks. Receiving more than 100 inches of rainfall annually, the trees thrive in the mild, moist climate along the coast.
Growing into one of the world's largest trees, redwood trees often reach 300 feet or more in height with some sporting trunks dozens of feet in diameter. Living to be more than 1,000 years old, redwood trees used to be found worldwide, but now exist primarily along the foggy Pacific coast. The thick bark of the tree acts as a heat shield when fires threaten the forest. The tree also features a chemical composition that ants and termites find repulsive, protecting the tree from burrowing pests.
Family groups of trees get referred to as cathedrals. This term applies to a group of trees that grew up from the remains of a fallen redwood. The trees in the group tend to form a circle around the perimeter of the stump. Close examination of the trees in a cathedral show they remain identical to each other as well as the stump they grew from.
In the Grove of Titans in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, one of the widest redwoods exists measuring 26 feet wide. As recently as 2006, a newly discovered redwood tree, named the Hyperion tree, received the designation of tallest redwood at more than 379 feet in height. The tree's exact location in the Redwood National Park remains undisclosed
The plants growing under redwood trees play a critical role in the success of the forest. Rhododendrons with showstopping pink, purple and white blooms grow in bushes up to 15 feet in the shade of trees. Western sword fern and redwood sorrel also rely on the forests' shade to thrive and grow. In the forests' more open areas, salmonberry and huckleberry bushes mingle with pink fragrant wood roses. Rare plants such as the coast fawn lily and long-beard lichen also grow in the forest.
When logging of the redwood forests began in the mid-1800s, two million acres of trees existed. Today, only 4 percent of the original forests exists. Redwood National Park as well as a handful of coastal state parks contain about half of the remaining redwood forests while the rest remain privately owned.
Birds such as chickadees, swifts and stellar jays make their nests in the redwoods and other trees found in the forest while banana slugs roam the deep, shady parts of the forest all day long. A variety of berry bushes such as huckleberry, blackberry, salmonberry and thimbleberry in the forest's understory provide an important food source for black bears and other wildlife.