|Latin (group) name: Sequoia|
|Latin (specific) name: Sequoia Gigantea (Lindley) Decaisne|
|Average max height: up to 250'|
|Average diameter: up to 30' or more|
|Associated state: none|
|Category: American Woods|
The Softwoods - Conifers
Giant Sequoia or Bigtree is the mightiest and oldest of all living things. The valid scientific name under the present International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature for this king of the forest is Sequoia Wellingtonia. This giant guardian sometimes reaches a height of 250 feet and an almost unbelievable diameter of 80 feet or more, with a root system sometimes covering an area or two acres. The largest tree in the world is a Bigtree called “General Sherman”in the Sequoia National Park. It is 272 1/2' feet tall, 36 1/2' feet in diameter at the base, 18 1/2' feet in diameter 100 feet from the ground, has limbs seven feet in diameter and bark four feet thick, an estimated weight of 6200 tons, is 3000 to 4000 years old and contains 600,000 board feet of lumber. Peter B. Kyne writes of this wonderful tree in his book “The Valley of the Gaints.” The Giant Sequoia grows at higher altitudes than the Redwood and far from the foggy coast of the Paciﬁc. The ﬁrst limb on the older trees may be as much as 225 feet from the ground.
The evergreen foliage is a deep green, resembling cedar, the leaves being sharp pointed, scale like and overlapping one another very closely. The egg-shaped cones require two seasons to mature, are two to three inches long, and of a yellowish-brown color. This tree reproduces only from seed. The bark is heavily and deeply ﬂuted, 12 to 24 inches or more in thickness, the inner bark being quite solid while the outer section lies in ﬁbrous spongy scales and is of a reddish-brown color. The Indians are said to have drunk the rose-purple colored sap in the superstitious belief that it contained a mystical power. The Bigtree and the Redwood have a magniﬁcent and fascinating history.
Common Names in Use
- Giant Sequoia (Calif. and hort.)
- Mammoth-tree (Calif., Eng. lit.)
- Sequoia (Calif.)
The Sequoia or Bigtree is found in approximately 32 groves, varying from a few trees to 1,000 or more. These groves occur only in the Sierra Nevada of California from near Michigan Bluff, Placer County, in the Tahoe National Forest, south to Deer Creek Grove, near Porterville in the Sequoia National Forest.
The heartwood of the Giant Sequoia when freshly cut is a brilliant rose-purple, which turns darker upon exposure to a dull purplish red-brown, somewhat lighter than the Redwood. The sapwood is narrow and creamy white. The wood is brittle, straight-grained, has very little ﬁgure, except in the burls, is stiff and splits easily, and contains much tannin.
Effort is being made to preserve these wonderful, giant trees for posterity in National Parks and National Forests. Because of the difficulty in felling these large, tall trees without much breakage and because the size of the logs makes them very expensive to handle, very little of this wood is commercially available.The wood would be suitable for general construction of all kinds and for all kinds of mill-work.