Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

We recently had the privilege to visit King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park. While there, we were amazed at the size of the Giant Sequoia trees. I included a photo of a group of sequoias in my previous post. Here, I will give you a little more information about these magnificent trees.

Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are native to only the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California from about 5000 to 7000ft elevation. Here, many of the groves were logged off in the late 19th and early 20th century. The remaining groves are nearly all within protected areas, which will preserve these giants for future generations. Some of the trees are more than 3000 years old, so we will have a long time to wait for the logged off areas to re-generate!

Redwoods  (Sequoia sempervirens) are native to only moist stream banks and slopes along the Pacific Coast from northern California into British Columbia. They receive almost daily “fog baths” which lower their transpiration rate and provide moisture to the earth. I hope to one day visit these huge trees!

 The tallest Sequoias (311ft), are are shorter than Redwoods (387ft), but more massive in girth. The thickest Redwoods are “only” 22ft in diameter while Sequoias can reach 40ft! Part of their girth is their fire-resistant bark which can be up to 3ft thick! The thick covering of bark on the sequoias must work to protect them from fire, as nearly all of the trees show fire damage at their bases, but are growing fine.

Because of their tremendous girth, Sequoias are the most massive trees on earth. The most massive of all (and LARGEST LIVING THING ON EARTH!) is the General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park. It’s bulk is over 52,500 cubic feet, an amount very hard to imagine! The park says that if the trunk of the General Sherman tree could be filled with water, it would provide enough water for 9,844 baths. Thats one bath every day for 27 years! While relatively “young” at only about 2200 years, the General Sherman tree appears to be in a state of decline – the top has died – but it is still adding yearly to its girth. The General Sherman adds as much wood in a year as contained in a tree 12″ diameter and 50ft tall! The largest branch on the tree broke off in 2006, it was 140ft long and had a diameter of over 6ft!

I created the following photo by combining three images shot in “RAW” mode – one over-exposed, one correctly exposed, and one under-exposed. Photoshop contains a feature that will combine these three shots into one high dynamic range photo (HDR). I have not used this feature very often, but like the results!

The "General Sherman" Giant Sequoia, the most massive tree in the world!