Characteristics of Coast Redwood Trees (Sequoia sempervirens) in the Wild

Sequoia sempervirens
Coast redwood or California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the only surviving species of the genus Sequoia. It is a long-lived, single-family tree that lives between 1,000-2,000 years or more. Coast redwood is also the tallest living tree on Earth, with a height of up to 115.5 meters and a trunk diameter of up to 8.9 meters.

Before commercial logging and land clearing that began in the 1850s, large Coast redwood trees grew naturally over an area of 810,000 acres across most of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall was insufficient) and the southwest corner of the coast. Oregon in the United States.

Its natural habitat provides a unique environment with heavy seasonal rains of up to 2,500 millimeters per year. The cool coastal air and mist drops make this forest always moist throughout the year. Several factors, including heavy rainfall, create soils with fewer nutrients than trees need, make them highly dependent on the entire forest biotic community, and make efficient recycling of dead trees extremely important.

 

Characteristics of Coast Redwood Leaf

Sequoia sempervirens Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Elena

Variable leaves, young trees have leaves 15-25 mm long and older trees have leaves 5-10 mm long. The leaves are scale-like, dark green above, and have two blue-white stomatal bands below. The arrangement of the leaves is spiral, but the larger shade leaves are twisted at the bottom so that they lie on a flat plane for maximum light capture.

 

Characteristics of Coast Redwood Fruit

Sequoia sempervirens Fruit
Source: flickr.com/Eric Hunt

Cones are ovate, 15-32 mm long, with 15-25 spiral scales, pollination occurs in late winter with maturation about 8-9 months thereafter. Each cone bears 3-7 seeds, each seed 3-4 mm long and 0.5 mm wide, with two 1 mm wings. The seeds are released when the conical scales dry and open at maturity. The pollen cone is the size of an egg and is between 4-6 mm long.

 

Characteristics of Coast Redwood Tree

Sequoia sempervirens Tree
Source: flickr.com/Greg L. Jones

Coast redwood trees can grow into very tall trees between 90-110 meters with a trunk diameter of 8-9 meters. The crown is conical, with horizontal to slightly drooping branches. The bark is very thick, up to 25-30 cm long, and quite soft and fibrous, turning red or brown when injured (hence the name redwood). The root system consists of shallow and widely spreading lateral roots.

This tree is resistant to insect attacks and fungal infections. These properties are conferred by the concentration of terpenoids and tannic acid in redwood leaves, roots, bark, and wood.

Coast redwood trees often grow in flood-prone areas. Sediment deposits can form impermeable barriers that suffocate tree roots, and unstable soil in flooded areas often causes trees to tilt to one side, increasing the risk of wind toppling them. Immediately after a flood, redwood grows existing roots upward into a layer of recently deposited sediment. A second root system then develops from adventitious shoots on the newly buried stem and the old root system dies. To combat lean, Coast redwood increases wood production on the vulnerable side, creating supporting supports. This adaptation created forests almost exclusively for growing Coast redwood trees in flood-prone areas.

The oldest known Coast redwood trees are about 2,200 years old, and many others in the wild are over 600 years old. Due to their seemingly timeless lifespan, Coast redwoods are considered “eternal redwoods”.

 

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