SIZE OF THE GIANT SEQUOIA
THE GIANT SEQUOIA stands supreme in size among the members of the plant world. No other species even closely competes with the vast volume of wood in the trunks of some of the larger Sequoias which rise as immense cylinders with very gradual taper for almost 300 feet into the sky.
This species, however, is exceeded in height by at least three others. The redwood, which is the tallest tree in the world, reaches a height of 364 feet. The Douglas-fir of the Pacific Northwest and the mountain gum of Australia reach maximum heights of 324 and 326 feet, respectively. The giant sequoia is probably fourth in height at about 300 feet, but has close competition from two other American speciesthe Sitka spruce and western hemlockwhich also approach the same height. None of these other tall trees, however, exceeds 20 feet in diameter 4-1/2 feet above the ground.
In diameter and circumference the giant sequoia is probably exceeded by only a single tree. A tule cypress, far exceeding in size any other of that species, near Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico, has a diameter of 36.1 feet and a circumference of 113 feet. This tree, however, is only 130 feet tall.
The vast size of the sequoias is difficult to comprehend fully. It is so out of proportion to commonly recognized measurements of trees or other familiar objects that figures regarding size do not register a clear picture of its vastness. One of the best illustrations known to the writer is that furnished by a single branch on the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. This branch is 6.8 feet in diameter as it turns upward from the trunk 130 feet from the ground and is 150 feet in length. Thus, it is larger than the largest specimens of many more familiar tree species, yet, in itself, is an inconspicuous part of the tree.
TABLE 1 Size of the largest giant sequoias1
1Figures were obtained by a group of well-qualified engineers and involved several hundred individual measurements and computations on each tree. Surveyors' transits were used and all measurements checked.
Last Updated: 02-Feb-2007