Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoias at the Sequoia National Park, California USA
Attribution: Tuxyso [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giant_sequoias_in_Sequoia_National_Park_2013.jpg

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

The Tree

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.

giant sequoia female cones
Giant Sequoia female cones
giant sequoia male pollen cones
Giant Sequoia male pollen cones
general sherman
General Sherman

Common Names in Use

  • Giant Sequoia (Calif. and hort.)
  • Bigtree
  • Mammoth-tree (Calif., Eng. lit.)
  • Sequoia (Calif.)

Growth Range

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 Wood

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.

turning blank
Sequoia turning blank by Farwest Forest Products


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

Contributors to this page: admin and John Morris .
Page last modified on Tuesday January 14, 2020 20:14:39 PST by admin.