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Giant Redwood

Sequoiadendron giganteum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cupressaceae (Cypress)
Evergreen tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
115.7 metres tall
Gardens, parks, woodland.

Brown, no petals
Flowering in late autumn, individual trees produce male and female flowers on the same tree. The small male pollen-producing flowers are yellowish-brown. The small female flowers are yellowish-green. The flowers are fairly inconspicuous and grow on the tips of the branches.
The fruit are cones, growing up to 2.5 inches in length. Each cone produces approximately 100 seeds.
An evergreen tree with very distinctive needle-like leaves. The small, scale-like bluish-green needles are prickly in appearance and are spirally arranged along the shoots.
Other Names:
Big Tree, Giant Sequoia, Sierra Redwood, Sierran Redwood, Wellingtonia.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Sequoiadendron giganteum, commonly known as giant sequoia or Sierra redwood, is a species of coniferous tree in the family Cupressaceae. It is native to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, United States. The giant sequoia is one of the largest and most massive tree species in the world, with some individuals reaching over 300 feet (91 meters) tall and up to 26 feet (8 meters) in diameter at the base. The bark is thick and deeply furrowed, and can be up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) thick on older trees. The leaves are scale-like and the cones are small and round.

Giant sequoia is a long-lived tree, and some individuals can live for more than 3,000 years. They are also highly resistant to fire and disease. Due to their size and resistance to decay, giant sequoias are often used for lumber, although their wood is relatively soft and brittle. Today, only a small portion of the original giant sequoia forest remains, and the species is protected in several national parks and reserves. They are popular tourist attractions, and are also cultivated as ornamental trees.


Giant redwoods, also known as Sequoiadendron giganteum, are among the most magnificent and awe-inspiring trees in the world. These towering trees can grow to heights of over 300 feet and have a lifespan of up to 3,000 years. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of giant redwoods and learn about their unique features and ecology.

Description of the Giant Redwood

The giant redwood is a coniferous tree that is native to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. It is closely related to the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), but the two species differ in their geographic range, appearance, and ecological requirements.

Giant redwoods have a distinctively massive trunk, which can reach a diameter of 40 feet at the base. The bark is thick and fibrous, and can be up to 31 inches thick. The crown of the tree is conical in shape and can extend up to 100 feet in width. The leaves are needle-like, and the cones are large and woody, with a diameter of up to 5 inches.

Ecology of the Giant Redwood

Giant redwoods are found in a narrow band of elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They require a specific set of environmental conditions to thrive, including abundant water, cool temperatures, and deep, nutrient-rich soils. They are also adapted to frequent wildfires, which can help to clear the forest floor of debris and promote new growth.

One of the most remarkable features of the giant redwood is its ability to capture and store vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These trees are some of the largest and most efficient carbon sinks on the planet, and play an important role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Conservation of the Giant Redwood

Giant redwoods are a symbol of the natural beauty and ecological richness of California, and are treasured by people around the world. However, these trees face a number of threats, including habitat loss, climate change, and invasive species.

Conservation efforts for giant redwoods focus on protecting their habitats and promoting sustainable forest management practices. This includes preserving old-growth forests, reducing the impact of human activities on forest ecosystems, and restoring degraded areas.

Visiting Giant Redwoods

Giant redwoods are a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Many of the largest and oldest trees can be found in protected areas such as national parks, where visitors can explore the forest on foot or by car.

Some of the most popular sites for viewing giant redwoods include Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park. Visitors can also learn about the ecology and conservation of these magnificent trees through guided tours and educational programs.

The giant redwood is an iconic species that embodies the beauty and resilience of California's natural landscapes. Its massive size, long lifespan, and unique ecology make it an object of fascination and admiration for people around the world. However, these trees face a number of threats, and it is up to us to ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come. By supporting conservation efforts and promoting sustainable forest management practices, we can help to protect this remarkable species and the ecosystems that depend on it.

Natural History

Giant redwoods have a rich natural history, dating back to the Jurassic period, over 200 million years ago. During this time, the Sierra Nevada region was much wetter and more humid than it is today, providing ideal conditions for the growth of these trees. As the climate changed over time, giant redwoods adapted to survive in the drier and more variable conditions that exist today.

The first Europeans to encounter giant redwoods were the Spanish explorers in the 16th century. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that the trees became widely known to the world. In 1852, a giant redwood tree was cut down and exhibited in New York City, sparking widespread interest in these magnificent trees.


The conservation of giant redwoods is an important issue, as the trees are under threat from a variety of factors. One of the biggest threats to their survival is logging, which has reduced the number of old-growth forests where giant redwoods can grow. To protect these trees, many national and state parks have been established in the Sierra Nevada region, where visitors can view the trees and learn about their ecology and conservation.

In addition to protecting their habitats, efforts are also being made to promote sustainable forestry practices that support the growth and maintenance of healthy forests. This includes practices such as selective harvesting and the use of prescribed fires to clear underbrush and promote new growth.

Cultural Significance

Giant redwoods have played an important role in the culture and mythology of indigenous peoples in the Sierra Nevada region. The trees are often considered to be sacred, and are associated with stories and legends that have been passed down through generations.

In modern times, giant redwoods have become a symbol of California's natural beauty and are a popular destination for tourists and nature enthusiasts. Many people are drawn to the majesty and grandeur of these trees, which are among the largest and most impressive organisms on the planet.

Giant redwoods are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of life on Earth. These trees have survived for millennia in some of the harshest and most variable environments on the planet, and continue to thrive in the face of human impacts and climate change.

By learning about the ecology and conservation of giant redwoods, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the importance of protecting the ecosystems that sustain us. Whether viewed in person or admired from afar, these magnificent trees are a source of wonder and inspiration for all who encounter them.

Here are some more interesting facts about giant redwoods:

  1. Largest Trees on Earth: Giant redwoods are some of the largest trees on Earth, with the tallest individual measuring 379.7 feet tall (115.7 meters) and the widest trunk measuring 40 feet (12.2 meters) in diameter.

  2. Fire-Resistant Bark: The thick, fibrous bark of giant redwoods is fire-resistant, which helps protect the tree from wildfires. The bark can be up to 31 inches (78.7 cm) thick, and can help insulate the tree from heat and flames.

  3. Unique Reproduction: Giant redwoods reproduce through seeds, which are contained in large, woody cones. The cones can take up to two years to mature, and will only release their seeds in response to specific environmental triggers, such as heat or smoke from a wildfire.

  4. Long Lifespan: Giant redwoods are some of the longest-lived trees on Earth, with some individuals surviving for over 3,000 years. The oldest known giant redwood, named Methuselah, is estimated to be over 4,800 years old.

  5. Carbon Sequestration: Giant redwoods are important carbon sinks, capable of storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These trees can sequester more carbon per hectare than any other forest type, making them an important tool in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

  6. Wildlife Habitat: Giant redwoods provide important habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, mammals, and insects. Many animals depend on the tree's large size and unique structure for nesting, feeding, and shelter.

  7. Human Uses: Giant redwoods have been used by humans for a variety of purposes, including building materials, fuel, and medicinal compounds. Today, these trees are primarily valued for their ecological, aesthetic, and cultural significance.

Overall, giant redwoods are an important and fascinating species, with a unique history, ecology, and cultural significance. By understanding and appreciating these remarkable trees, we can work to ensure their continued survival for generations to come.


Giant Redwood trees filmed at Bourton-on-the-water in the Cotswolds on the 28th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

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