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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sequoiadendron giganteum - Giant Redwood

Giant is hardly an adequate description, but its pretty hard to come up with adjectives to describe Sequoiadendron giganteum. What a magnificent tree. The largest trees on earth (not the tallest but the most mass). The specimen named General Sherman (seen below) is 285' tall, has a circumference of 102' near the base of the tree and 10-15' in diameter. They can live 3500 years. Restricted to a 200 mile area in the western slopes of the Sierra Mountain range luckily most are in the Sierra National Forest and are protected.



Trees in cultivation grow very quickly. They maintain a very formal pyramidal habit with the lower branches being retained. In a forested situation the lower branches are self shedding.  



This is a blue form growing next to a green form on the campus of Portland State.




Not sure where this picture came from, since I like vanagons and Redwoods….




Leaves are evergreen, awl-like, sharp pointed, medium green color with some waxy bloom giving them a bluish cast. They tend to be divergent from the stem and appear to be opposite but they are alternately arranged. Some leaves maybe scale-like as well.




Cones are oval, 1-1/2 to 2-1/2" long, brown at maturity with peltate scales.  Records suggest that a large tree can produce 11,000 cones with 400K seeds.



When the scales open up they remind me of the wax lip candy filled with some sort of sugar water.




Comparison of Sequoiadendron on the left and Sequoia on the right.



Reddish brown spongy bark, may be up to 2' thick. A common name in the UK is the boxing tree as you can punch it without hurting your hand.





Cross section of a giant redwood at the Natural History Museum in London, with historic dates assigned to the rings. Wish I could find the Far Side cartoon showing a dad with an axe in his hand explaining to his son Billy how a tree miraculously survived drought, fires, but not the axe.



Certainly one of my all time favorite trees, the weeping giant sequoia.



The tree is known in the UK as Wellingtonia or the Wellington tree. But that name was rejected as it had been used for another unrelated species. The trees are very common in the UK and some magnificent trees can be seen at some of the largest estates. They would be planted in rows creating a "Wellington Avenue".

Misidentification:
Sequoia sempervirens maybe, at times you might find some branches on the ground after a storm that show awl-like leaves but most of the leaves are needle-like, Cryptomeria japonica has awl-shaped leaves as well as a small cone with peltate scales.

Location

Capitola
621 Bay In back behind the house, next to a Coast Redwood.
202 Central Ave, at the intersection of Fairview Ave. Two large specimens.

Santa Cruz
1420 King St
1251 7th Ave. or in the vacant lot next door

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