The Giant Sequoias of California
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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 species—the Sitka spruce and western hemlock—which also approach the same height. None of these other tall trees, however, exceeds 20 feet in diameter 4-1/2 feet above the ground.

FIGURE 8.—General Grant Tree, General Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park.

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

Name of treeLocation Height
to top
Perimeter at
base on
Mean diameter— Height
of first
Diameter of
of limbs
and loss
by burns
At 60
At 120

FeetFeetFeet FeetFeetFeetFeetCu. Ft.
General Sherman.Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park. 272.4101.630.7 17.517.0129.9 6.849,600
General GrantGrant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park. 267.4107.633.3 16.315.0129.8 3.243,038
BooleConverse Forest, Sequoia National Forest. 268.8112.033.2 15.313.9126.0 --39,974
HartRedwood Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park. 277.973.826.5 14.512.9---- --32,607
Grizzly GiantMariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. 209.096.527.6 15.813.195.4 6.030,300

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.

TABLE 2.—Size of other large giant sequoias

Name of tree Location Base

LincolnGiant Forest, Sequoia National Park.31259
resident   do29250
McKinley   do28291
CaliforniaGrant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park.30260
Wawona (Tunnel Tree)Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park.27.5231

TABLE 3 —Size of other large trees

Tree species Location Base
Redwood—Founders Tree (tallest tree in the world).Humboldt Redwood State Park, Dyerville, Calif. 15.1364
Mountain gum (Eucalyptus regnans)Mount Baw Baw, near Melbourne, Australia. 15.0326
Douglas-firNear Ryderwood, Wash 12.0324
Tule cypressSanta Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico 36.1130
BaobabChristmas Island, near Singapore 30.0140
Kauri pineNew Zealand 24.0160
JaquitibaBrazil 23.0150

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Last Updated: 02-Feb-2007