In 2006, a team of intrepid researchers in California discovered 3 trees taller than the Stratosphere Giant of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The tallest living thing in the world is now a Coast Redwood called Hyperion, and it stands an incredible 115.2 meters (378.1 feet) tall!
Redwoods have grown and prospered in many areas of Europe, Asia and North America since the warm Paleozoic Era over 160 million years ago. Changes in climate have restricted their natural range and eliminated all but three genera of redwood. Dawn Redwood, (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), is native to a remote area of central China. The Giant Sequoia, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), is native to the western slope of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. The Coast Redwood, (Sequoia sempervirens), is native to the Pacific Coast from southern Oregon to central California, extending not more than 50 miles inland.
Coast redwoods follow the fog and grow best at less than 2,000 feet elevation in areas of heavy winter rains and moderate year round temperatures. They are the world’s tallest living things. Some of them tower above 360 feet. The name, Sequoia sempervirens, is Latin for "ever living" - an appropriate name for these trees since
many are 600 to 1200 years old and some have lived more than 2,000 years! In fact, since coast redwoods often reproduce by root collar burl sprouting, the genetic material that comprises some trees may be thousands of years old.
In a tropical rainforest, where vegetation is so thick as to be impenetrable, it seems like the ultimate in dense forest conditions. Surprisingly, however, the greatest accumulation of biomass (living and dead organic material) ever recorded on earth is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where an acre of stem mass (redwood tree trunks) alone has been estimated at 1,541 tons. When branch, leaf and root mass are added, the estimate increases to 1,800 tons per acre - seven times the density of biomass in an acre of tropical rainforest!
(Courtesy Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association
(pictures taken over a 2 day summer solstice trip June 20)
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