Facts About Sequoia Trees


Sequoia trees are the true giants of the plant kingdom, accepted as the largest trees on the planet. More commonly known as California redwoods and giant sequoias, these evergreens are members of the cupressaceae or cypress family. Every year, people from all corners of the globe visit the parks of central and northern California to take in the majesty of these beautiful trees.

California Redwood

The stately California redwoods of northern California are famous for both their size and age. The high tannin content of the wood and bark gives redwood trees their intense color and protects them from fire, insects and disease. Such natural immunity accounts for the tremendous longevity of these sequoias, which can live more than 2,000 years. Also commonly known as coast redwoods, these trees belong to the genus sequoia sempervirens.

World's Tallest Tree

The magnificent Stratosphere Giant tree located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park has been widely accepted as the world's tallest tree, at more than 370 feet in height. However, exploration in Redwood National Forest in 2006 uncovered three new contenders for the title. The tallest of this trio, dubbed Hyperion by the search team, measured in at just over 378 feet. Interestingly enough, team member Chris Atkins also discovered the Stratosphere Giant tree six years earlier.

Giant Sequoia

The giant sequoias of California are among the oldest trees in the world. Known as sequoiadendron by their Latin nomenclature, it is estimated that the largest living trees of this genus are between 1,800 and 2,700 years old. These ancient trees average 260 feet in height and many are wide enough for several lanes of traffic to pass through at the base. An actual road tunnel through a sequoia did exist in Yosemite National Park, but this tree unfortunately fell over in 1969.

World's Largest Tree

Sequoia National Park in central California is home to the world's largest tree by volume, a giant sequoia known as the General Sherman. With a height of 275 feet and a base circumference of over 102 feet, this mighty tree boasts a volume of more than 52,500 cubic feet. It is considered to be the largest living thing on earth, and is therefore also one of the most visited and photographed trees in the world.

Smaller Sequoias

Although growing a giant sequoia or coast redwood in the garden is definitely out of the question for most people, there are several varieties of sequoia that may fit in. Sequoia sempervirens adpressa is an attractive dwarf variety of redwood with creamy white tips on the foliage. It usually grows to about five feet in height but it's best to keep up the pruning, just in case. Sequoiadendron giganteum pendulum is a giant sequoia variety with branches that droop downwards. This small tree reaches heights of up to 10 feet.

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About this Author

Based in Surrey, British Columbia, Stephen Oakley is a freelance writer focusing on environmental issues, travel and all things outdoors. His background includes many years spent working in the Canadian wilderness and traveling worldwide.