Giant Sequoia Sequoiadendron giganteum
The Giant Sequoia, also known as the Wellingtonia or Giant Redwood or Sierra Redwood, is a conifer native to the Sierra Nevada in California. The tree grows on the western slopes of these mountains at heights of 1400 to 2000m. It was introduced to Britain in 1853 and some trees are already over 50m tall, but in California they can grow to nearly 100m and some may be 3500 years old. Although closely related, the tree differs from the Coast Redwood in that it has only one type of leaf. The Giant Sequoia has scale-like leaves (with sharp points) that coat downward-hanging shoots. The cones also droop down in large numbers. The cones are not large. The bark is red and spongy and the trees are massive.
The Dawn Redwood, the Coast Redwood and the Giant Sequoia (sometimes called the Sierra Redwood) are all related. They are relics from a period 100 million years ago when they were widespread. They now have very restricted natural distributions – the Dawn Redwood to central China and the other two to California.
The tree is massive.
The bark is red and spongy and the trunk flares out at the base.
The scale leaves coat downward-hanging shoots.
Close-up of the scale leaves showing their sharp points.
The shoots are bunched together.
Male ‘flowers’ shedding pollen in March.
A cone in July. They stay green, on the tree, for a year and ripen in the second year.
An old cone found on the ground under the tree.