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Giant Sequoia Sequoiadendron giganteum


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Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Coniferous tree known as redwood. World's largest tree in terms of total volume. Record trees 94.8 m. (311 ft.) height and 17 m. (56 ft.) diameter. Bark reddish-brown, fibrous, furrowed, and may be 90 cm. (3.0 ft.) at trunk base. Leaves blue-green, awl-shaped, 3–6 mm. long, arranged spirally on the shoots. Cones 4–7 cm. long and mature in 18–20 months, though they typically remain green and closed for up to 20 years; each cone 30-50 spirally arranged scales, with several seeds on each scale giving an average of 230 seeds per cone. Seeds dark brown, 4–5 mm. long and 1 mm. broad, with a 1 mm. wide yellow-brown wing along each side. Seed shed when the cone scales shrink during hot weather in late summer, but most seeds liberated when the cone dries from fire heat or is damaged by insects.

Dimensions Height: 46-76 m. (150-250 ft.)
Diameter: 6 m. (20 ft.) sometimes larger.

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Mountains.

Range California.

Discussion Sole living species in the genus Sequoiadendron. Oldest known Giant Sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old. Wood highly resistant to decay, fibrous brittle, unsuitable for construction. From the 1880s through the 1920s logging took place in spite of marginal commercial returns. Due to weight and brittleness trees would often shatter when they hit the ground, wasting much of the wood. It is estimated that as little as 50 percent of the timber made it from groves to the mill. Used mainly for shingles, fence posts, or matchsticks.