63. Sierra Redwood

(Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Other Common Names: Big Tree, Giant Sequoia

Family: Cupressaceae

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With its trunk 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) thick, this mighty tree is among the most asked about on campus. You've met Coast Redwood across the street by Winkenwerder and a Dawn Redwood east of the Guggenheim annex. This one is larger than either. It grows in the mountains of California, including Yosemite National Park. A billowing mass of scaly blue-green foliage soars to a neat, cone-shaped top. It almost looks sheared compared to coast or dawn redwoods. This specimen may date from the turn of the century, so you can appreciate how fast it has grown.


The bark is red, fibrous, furrowed, and thick to prevent damage from fires common in its native habitat. The cones look like many sets of lips all held together from the inside. The longest-lived known individual of this species was 3,500 years old. Because the brittle wood of these giants would often shatter when they were felled, probably less than 50% of it ever got to the mill

[Leaves, cone and seeds of Sierra Redwood]

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