SIZE OF THE REDWOODS
IT IS A COMMON human trait to be interested in the
biggest of anything. Which is the biggest tree in the world? Some say
one, some another; some have measured the height of a tree, and insisted
that the tallest tree is the largest tree in the world; others have
measured the circumference, and have contended that the one having the
greatest girth is the largest. Perhaps bigness had best be measured in
terms of total volume. This can be expressed in board feet of lumber,
and the quantitative measurement will permit definite comparisons to be
Without question, if total volume is used as the
standard of measurement, the Sierra Redwoods will stand at the head of
the list as the largest trees in the world. And among them there may yet
be found trees which, measured accurately, will be found to be larger
than some of those which are now world famous. There are some very fine
trees in the Calaveras and Stanislaus groves, and many in the groves of
Sequoia National Park, which may be larger than some that are now
usually accepted as the largest.
THE ANIMAL TREE, BIG BASIN.
GROTESQUE ANIMAL HEADS ARE TO BE SEEN IN THE BURLS
Courtersy of Russell Angel
By volume, the largest of the Sierra Redwoods are
larger than any of the Coast Redwoods. The four most renowned
measured Sierra Redwood trees are the following.
General Sherman"The Largest Living Thing."The
title of the world's "Largest Living Thing" is often given
to the General Sherman. This is a magnificent Sierra Redwood in Sequoia
National Park. There are taller trees in the world, and a few that have
greater diameter, but probably none has a total volume equaling that of
the General Sherman. The Sequoia National Park Circular of Information
for 1934 gives as the dimensions of this tree: height above mean base,
272.4 feet; base circumference, 101.6 feet; greatest base diameter, 36.5
feet; mean base diameter, 33.7 feet; diameter of largest branch, 6.8
feet; total volume, 600,120 board feet. Fry and Whine, in Big Trees,
give its total estimated weight as more than 12,000,000 pounds, or 6,167
tons, divided approximately as follows: trunk, 5,602 tons; root system,
375 tons; limbs, 178 tons; bark, 7 tons; foliage, 5 tons. In terms of
familiar comparisons, the tree is one-third of a city block in
circumference and nearly a block tall. It has a diameter greater than the
width of the ordinary home. One limb is larger in diameter than most of
the trees in the Rocky Mountains. The tree's weight equals that of 4,000
automobiles. In contains enough lumber to make forty five-room
bungalows. There is enough wood in it to make a box large enough to
contain the largest ocean liner ever built.
General Grant"The Nation's Christmas
Tree."The General Grant tree is in General Grant National Park. In
is usually considered as second only to the General Sherman in size. The
General Grant National Park Circular of Information for 1934 states that
the General Grant Tree has the greatest base diameter (40.3 feet) and
the largest diameter an 200 feet from the ground (12 feet) of any known
Sequoia. The tree is 267 feet tall. It has a circumference of 107.6
feet, and contains 516,456 board feet of lumber. Although not the
largest of all Redwoods, certainly this tree, which was designated
several years ago as "The Nation's Christmas Tree," is one of the
notably large trees of the world. It is worthy of high honor.
The Boole Treesaved by a lumber
foreman.Some years ago, a lumber company cut down a large number
of the finest Sierra Redwoods known, in Converse Basin, which is near
General Grant National Park. On account of the brittleness of Redwood,
often as much as one-half to three-fourths of it is wasted in the
lumbering operation. Tons of Redwood trunks and limbs now lie in the
Converse Basin, a testimony no the wastefulness and uselessness of
lumbering the Sierra Redwood. Fry and White call this area a "Land of
HILLSIDE FOREST OF COAST REDWOOD, BIG BASIN
Courtesy of Rusell Angel
In this basin, in the Kings River watershed, one of
the finest trees is said to have been saved by the foreman of the lumber
crew. It was later named in his honor the Boole Tree. The Boole ranks
high among the largest trees of the world. It has an actually greater
circumference than either the General Sherman or the General Grant. The
dimensions of the tree are: height, 268.8 feet; circumference, 112
feet; total volume in board feet of lumber, 479,688.
Grizzly Giantsentinel of the ages.The
Grizzly Giant of the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees in Yosemite National
Park is one of the truly large trees of the world. It is not so tall as
the other trees that have been mentioned, but in size throughout the
greater part of its height it compares favorably with them. It appears
to have suffered greatly through the centuries from lightning and fire,
yet it continues to live and grow. Its dimensions are: height, 209 feet;
base circumference, 96 feet; greatest base diameter, 32.5 feet; mean
base diameter, 27.6 feet; diameter of largest limb, 6 feet; and total
number of board feet, 367,000.
A summary of the size of these four large trees will
make comparisons somewhat easier. The dimensions in feet are as
Among the Coast Redwoods also, a number of unusually large trees are to
be found. At least five or six unusually "Big Trees" have become well
known; and doubtless there are others not yet measured which would
compare favorably with these. The Coast Redwood is a good lumber tree.
Nearly all the early published statements on its size have given the
"timber cruise" volume. The measurements were made by foresters or
lumbermen, and naturally their figures indicated the number of
merchantable board feet of lumber in a tree or in an area of Redwood
trees. When the Save-the-Redwoods League began buying Coast Redwood
areas, it was naturally interested in the value of the trees of each
area and the value was best determined by the same method that had been
employed by the foresters for lumber companies. The board-feet volume as published
for most of the best-known Coast Redwoods does not indicate the total
volume as expressed in board feet; and the majority of the published
statements on the size of the Coast Redwoods do not compare favorably
with those on the size of the Sierra Redwoods because of this difference
in methods of measurement.
The largest Coast Redwoods probably exceed in total
volume 300,000 board feet. Although this is not as great a figure as
that given for any one of the four largest known Sierra Redwoods, it
represents lumber enough to build about twenty average-sized homes. The
following are among the better-known "Big Trees" among the Coast
Redwoods: "Santa Clara," in the California State Redwood Park in the
Santa Cruz Mountains; the "Big Tree" of Maple Creek; the "Big Tree" of
Prairie Creek; the "Big Tree" of Hiouchi Redwood Park; the "Big Tree" of
Bull Creek Flat; and the "General Custer" of Big Tree Park.
Because several sets of measurements have been
published with respect to the size of these "Big Trees," and these are
somewhat contradictory, I give here the measurements supplied by E. P.
French, Superintendent of the Northwest District, State Parks. He is an
experienced timber cruiser and forester and has measured nearly all the
larger Coast Redwoods. The following measurements indicate "mill cut"
volume instead of total volume, and in order to arrive at the total
volume about one-fourth the volume here given should be added.
|Big Tree, Bull Creek Flat||345||16.6||72||235,000|
|Santa Clara, Big Basin||240||17.9||65.6||200,000|
|Big Tree, Hiouchi Redwood Park||340||16.6||62.3||130,800|
|Big Tree, Prairie Creek Redwoods||300||17.7||90||128,000|
|General Custer, Big Tree Park||280||16.2||71||84,000|
HEIGHTINTERESTING MEASUREMENT OF BIGNESS
In respect to height, the Coast Redwood, not the
Sierra Redwood, stands at the top of the list.
Coast Redwoodthe world's tallest
trees.The tallest known Coast Redwood is one still standing on
North Dyerville Flat about 800 feet east of Dyerville Bridge in Humboldt
County. This tree is 364 feet in height and 15 feet in diameter at the
base. It is commonly referred to as the "world's tallest known standing tree," or the
"Founders' Tree." It was dedicated to the founders of the
Save-the-Redwoods LeagueDr. John C. Merriam, of Washington, D.
C., President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and President
of the League; Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, deceased, of New York, then
President of the American Museum of Natural History; and Mr. Madison
Grant, of New York. Taller trees may have existed in the pastsome
have been reported as of heights up to 375 feetbut, so far as is
known at the present time, this is the tallest standing tree in
existence. Many of the Coast Redwoods attain a height of from 300 to 350
Douglas Firthe tallest tree of the Pacific
Northwest.The Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia) is not only
one of America's best lumber trees, but also one of the largest. The
Douglas Fir is a member of the Pine Family. Although it is not a true
pinenor a true firit is sold by lumbermen under the trade
name of "Oregon Pine." The scientific name means "false hemlock with
yew-like foliage." There are no trees of this kind in the Eastern
Hemisphere. The trees were discovered by an English botanist, Douglas,
and they have been named in his honor. They are found growing natively
in the western United States from Colorado through Montana, Idaho,
Washington, Oregon, and California.
According to records of the United States Department
of Agriculture, as contained in a Technical Bulletin published in
October, 1930, there is a standing Douglas Fir near Little Rock,
Washington, which is 330 feet in height, with a diameter of
approximately 6 feet. At least three other trees of this species have
been found to be more than 300 feet tall. Thousands of them are more
than 200 feet in height.
tree.Eucalyptus, sometimes called "Gum" is a species of hardwood,
native to Australia. This tree has been planted widely in California. A
fine group of about 100 of these trees may be seen growing near the Life
Sciences Building of the University of California at Berkeley.
According to the service bulletin of the United
States Forest Products Laboratory in Washington, D. C., the tallest
Eucalyptus of authentic known measurement was in Colac, Victoria,
Australia. It was 346 feet in height, and was felled many years ago.
Present living Eucalyptus trees measure from 300 feet to 310 feet in
height. Undoubtedly, there have been taller trees in the past, but
statements alleging heights of from 400 to 500 feet are not accepted by
THE GENERAL SHERMANTHE WORLD'S TALLEST TREE
Courtesy of Sequoia National Park
Sierra Redwoodtrees a block tall.The
Sierra Redwood reaches a height of 310 feet. There is one of that height
in General Grant National Parkthe California Tree. We have the
record of a fallen tree which was of exactly the same height as the
tallest Eucalyptus, namely, 346 feet. Judge Fry, of Sequoia National
Park, measured a fallen Sierra Redwood in Redwood Mountain Grove which
was 346 feet long. Many of these trees have heights ranging from 250 to
Sugar Pine"Queen of the Sierra."The
Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana) is a white pine; John Muir has called it
the "Queen of the Sierra." It is associated with the Sierra Redwood on
the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Trees of this species often
reach a height of 240 feet and a diameter up to 10 or 11 feet. Mature
trees produce the longest cone of any tree in the world, often from 18
to 24 inches long.
To summarize. The heights of the tallest known
standing trees are as follows:
|Height in feet|
|Coast RedwoodFounders' Tree||364|
|Douglas FirState of Washington||330|
|Sierra RedwoodCalifornia Tree||310|
|Sugar PineState of California||240|
A number of trees, one may observe, are taller than
the ordinary city block is long. Several of them are taller than the
Campanile of the University of California at Berkeley (307 feet).
Several trees are more than two-thirds the height of the City Hall of
Los Angeles (460 feet), and hundreds of trees are more than one-half as
tall as the Washington Monument (555 feet).
THE GENERAL GRANT"THE NATION'S CHRISTMAS TREE"
Courtesy of General Grant National Park
DIAMETERPOPULAR MEASUREMENT OF BIGNESS
Another measurement often given to indicate the size
of trees is the diameter, accompanied usually by the circumference. Yet
it is exceedingly difficult to obtain an accurate measurement of the
diameter of a tree. Many trees have root swellings which, if included,
do not give a correct idea of the real size. Where the measurement is
made is also important. Some diameters are listed as base measurements,
others as taken at five feet from base, and still others at ten feet
from the base. It seems that either the five- or the ten-feet-above-base
measurement should be adopted in order to give more accurate
data. Foresters commonly use "breast high," which is approximately five
feet, as the most representative measurement. In most of the data given
in this book the base measurements have been included.
As nearly as I have been able to determine the facts,
the following statements are correct for the diameter of some of
the better-known large trees.
Sierra Redwoodthe world's largest
trees.Several trees of the Sierra Redwood measure from 30 to 32
feet in diameter at the base. The greatest measurement of the Grizzly
Giant is 32.5 feet, of the General Sherman, 36.5 feet, and of the
General Grant, 40.3 feet. Hundreds of Sierra Redwood are more than 25
feet in diameter.
Kauri PineNew Zealand's Big Tree.The
Kauri "Pine" (Agathis australis), or Big Tree of New Zealand, deserves
mention among the large trees of the world. It is not a true pine, but a
member of the Araucaria Family. The so-called Monkey Puzzle Tree and the
Norfolk Island Pine belong to this family. Various species of the
family are cultivated although native only in the Southern Hemisphere.
Besides New Zealand, some of the South American countries have large
forests of members of this family.
The largest living Kauri Pine tree measures 24 feet
in diameter. It is in a grove near the head of Mercury Bay, Auckland, in
a state forest. This forest is a great reserve of 10,000 acres, made up
in large part of Kauri Pines, and contains many of the largest Kauri
trees still standing. Many of them are from 16 to 20 feet in diameter.
The larger Kauri trees scale about 200,000 board feet of lumber.
Coast RedwoodThe largest trees of the Redwood
Highway. Among the big trees of America, the Coast Redwood is
second only to the Sierra Redwood. They do not ordinarily exceed 18 feet
in diameter, but several larger individual trees deserve mention. A
Coast Redwood tree at Big Tree Park, Del Norte County, California, is
22.8 feet in diameter at the base, and 16 feet, 2 inches at breast
height. This tree is often incorrectly called the largest tree in the
world. Another tree, in Mill Creek, is 19 feet, 10 inches in diameter at
the base and 16 feet, 6 inches in diameter at breast height, and a third
tree of this species, the Santa Clara, in the California State Redwood
Park (Big Basin), is 17 feet, 9 inches in diameter.
Mexican CypressMexico's largest tree.The
Mexican Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) is a member of the Redwood
Family. It grows to a large size, reaching a diameter of from 18
to 20 feet. There is a famous tree in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, in
the churchyard of the village of Santa María del Tule, which is much
larger than others of this species, with a diameter of 40 feet at the
ground, and of 35 feet at five feet from the ground. The tree is 160
feet tall, and the branches have a spread of about 140 feet. Although
this tree is not so large in total volume as the largest of the Sierra
Redwood, it is larger in diameter than any of them with the possible
exception of the General Grant Tree.
Bald Cypressthe deciduous conifer.The
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is closely related to the Mexican
Cypress and also belongs to the Redwood Family. Trees of this species
grow in the southeastern part of the United States. They occur in
swamps, where they form "knee" growths through which the roots receive
oxygen. The trees often attain a diameter of from 10 to 20 feet, and
occasionally up to 15 feet. The largest tree in the State of Oklahoma
is a Bald Cypress, 10 feet in diameter. The foliage of the Bald Cypress
resembles the foliage of the Coast Redwood. Cypress, however, loses its
leaves in winter, and Redwood is evergreen.
Japanese Cedarthe Big Tree of Japan.The
Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) is another member of the Redwood
Family which grows to be a very large tree. It is native to Japan. Its
foliage is similar to that of the Sierra Redwood. The cones are about
the size of the cones of the Coast Redwood, but have prominent bracts,
which the cones of the Coast Redwood lack. Several centuries ago,
thousands of Cryptomerias were planted on either side of a part of the
highway leading from Tokyo up to the temples at Nikko. Many of them have
grown to enormous size and now form a very beautiful setting to the
highway. Ordinarily, the trees do not exceed from 10 to 12 feet in
diameter, nor 135 feet in height.
Banyan Treetree of a thousand trunks.The
Banyan Tree (Ficus indica) of tropical regions is often incorrectly
compared with other big trees. Through its ability to start new trees by
roots which extend from its drooping branches, it forms an aggregation
of several united trees, which may have a total measurement of as much
as 100 feet across. This is the measurement, however, not of one tree,
but of several. Banyan trees of this type may have as many as 3,000
trunks. The name "Banyan" is from the Hindu for "merchant." The trees
are so named because they are so frequently used as market places.
In summary. The Sierra Redwood and the Coast Redwood
are just about supreme among the big trees of the world: five of the six
biggest trees listed are members of the Redwood Family.
|Sierra Redwood||32 feetunusual, 40 feet|
|Kauri Pine||24 feet|
|Coast Redwood||18 feetunusual, 22 feet|
|Mexican Cypress||20 feetunusual, 40 feet|
|Bald Cypress||15 feet|
|Japanese Cedar||12 feet|