Characteristics of Giant Sequoia Tree (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the Wild

Sequoiadendron giganteum
The giant sequoia or Sierra redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is the only living species in the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of conifer trees known as redwoods.

The natural habitat of the giant sequoia is limited to a limited area in the western Sierra Nevada, California. They grow in groups, with a total of 68 clumps in an area of 35,620 hectares.

Giant sequoias are usually found in humid climates characterized by dry summers and snowy winters. Most of the giant sequoia forest is on residual and alluvial soils based on granite. Giant sequoias generally inhabit the southern side of the northern mountains, and on the northern side of the more southern slopes at an altitude of 1,400-2,000 m asl.

 

Characteristics of Giant Sequoia Leaf

Sequoiadendron giganteum Leaf
Source: flickr.com/J.H.J.F.W. Br.

Leaves are green, needle-shaped, 3-6 mm long, and spirally arranged on shoots.

 

Characteristics of Giant Sequoia Fruit

Sequoiadendron giganteum Fruit
Source: flickr.com/CameliaTWU

Cones measure 4–7 cm long and mature in 18–20 months, although they usually remain green and covered for 20 years. Each cone has 30-50 scales arranged in a spiral, with several seeds on each scale.

Giant sequoia produces an average of 230 seeds per cone. Seeds are dark brown, 4-5 mm long, 1 mm wide, with yellow-brown wings on each side.

 

Characteristics of Giant Sequoia Tree

Sequoiadendron giganteum Tree
Source: flickr.com/The Tree Library

The giant sequoia is the largest individual tree in the world. They grow to an average height of 50-85 meters with stem diameters ranging from 6-8 meters. The tallest tree is known to be 94.8 meters high, with a trunk diameter of 17 meters. Meanwhile, the tree with the largest trunk diameter is the General Grant tree with a trunk diameter of 8.8 meters. The oldest known giant sequoia trees are 3,200-3,266 years old based on dendrochronology.

Giant sequoia bark is fibrous, grooved, and maybe up to 90 cm thick at the base of the columnar trunk. The sap contains tannic acid, which provides significant protection from fire damage.

By nature, giant sequoias can adapt to forest fires. Their bark is very strong and fire-resistant, and their cones will usually open soon after a fire. Giant sequoias have difficulty reproducing in their natural habitat (and very rare breed in cultivation) because the seeds are only able to grow successfully in full sun and mineral-rich soil, free of competing vegetation. Although the seeds may germinate in moist needle humus in the spring, they will die when dry in summer. They, need periodic forest fires to clear vegetation and create soil humus before successful regeneration can occur. As seedlings mature, they usually require large amounts of water and are therefore often concentrated near rivers.

 

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