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Sequoia sempervirens (California redwood, Coast redwood)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Gymnospermae > Coniferophyta > Cupressaceae

Californian redwood in the Strybing Arboretum, San Francisco Golden Gate Park, USA, which was originally planted in about 1889 [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]

Smaller California redwood (leaves with male cones, and trunk) in Arderne Gardens, Claremont, Cape Town. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]

Native to a narrow fog belt on the west coast of the USA, extending from Monterey County in California to southern Oregon. The species holds the record as the tallest living thing on earth with specimens reaching 115.5 m in height.

The tallest recorded specimen is a tree called Hyperion in the Redwood National Park, California, which is 115.5 m tall. Evidently, the maximum theoretical height that a tree can grow is 122-130 m, based on limitations caused by gravity and the friction of water in the vessels. The widest specimen with a single trunk has a diameter at breast height of 7.2 m (height 93.6 m). The greatest wood volume measured is for a tree with two stems called the Lost Monarch, which has an estimated volume of 1203 m3 (see Wikipedia link below for more details). In terms of trunk diameter and volume, the California redwood is beaten by the related Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant sequoia, Sierra redwood), which is also found in California. The record diameter at breast height of a Giant sequoia is 8.8 m and the record volume is 1487 m3.

Experimental plots were set up in various forestry areas of South Africa in the 1920's to test this tree as a suitable timber tree. Of these trees, the one with the widest girth is a specimen at Harkerville (planted in 1925), which has a diameter at breast height of 160 cm, and which is 33 m tall. The tallest redwood in these experimental plots is one in the forest at Grootvadersbos, which has a recorded height of 46 m.

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