Coast Redwood Sequoia sempervirens forest, Capitola, Big Basin 122 Redwoods State Park

Attribution: By Allie_Caulfield from Germany [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/common/b/b4/Sequoia_sempervirens_Big_Basin_Redwoods_State_Park_4.jpg


Latin (group) name: Sequoia
Latin (specific) name: Sequoia Sempervirens (D. Don) Endlicher
Average max height: 200' to 275'
Average diameter: 20'
Associated state: California
Category: American Woods
The Softwoods - Conifers

The Tree

The Redwood is very similar to the Giant Sequoia, or Bigtree, but is taller, not as great in diameter, and has shorter life. The generic name (Sequoia) is of Indian origin and the Latin specific name “sempervirens” means “always green” or “ever living.” Most of the Redwood trees now living are from 200 to 275 feet tall and less than 20 feet in diameter, although occasionally much larger trees are found. The tallest Redwood tree now known is the “Founders Tree” near Dyerville, California. It is 864 feet high and 22.8 feet in diameter. The trunk of the Redwood is heavily buttressed, clear of limbs for 100 feet or more, and has an open, well rounded crown with heavy short drooping branches. The flat, sharply pointed evergreen leaves stand out stiffly on both sides of the twigs and are a bright-yellowish or olive-green color. The small egg-shaped cones, even smaller than those of the Bigtree, are scarcely an inch long, mature in one season and are a dull purplish brown color. The seeds are small, and four or five of them are packed tightly against each cone scale. The tree reproduces both from seeds and from sprouts. The bark is fibrous in texture, fluted, dense, about a foot thick and a dark reddish gray color. The Coast Redwood is the official State tree of California.

redwood tree bark
Redwood tree bark
redwood foliage
Redwood foliage and cones
redwood cones
Redwood female cones

Common Names in Use

  • Redwood (Calif., Am. Lit. and trade)
  • California Redwood (Eng. lit., American Trade)
  • California Cedar (Eng. trade)
  • Coast Redwood (Calif.)
  • Humboldt Redwood (Calif., trade)
  • Sequoia (Calif.,Eng. trade)

Growth Range

The Redwood grows from sea level to about 8,000 feet elevation, in an area of approximately one and one-half million acres. It is found in a narrow strip from the west slope of the Pacific Coast Range from the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon to northern San Luis Obispo County, California, situated about one hundred miles south of San Francisco. It thrives in the foggy moist atmosphere prevalent along this portion of the Pacific Coast.

The Wood

The heartwood of Redwood is straight-grained, soft, moderately strong, and varies in color from a light cherry-red to a dark, reddish-brown or mahogany. Generally it is a clear, light red to brownish-red, with a narrow, almost white sapwood. It rarely has a wavy grain. It is rather brittle and splits easily. The wood works moderately well with tools; glues well; nails easily; but holds nails and screws poorly. It takes and holds paint exceptionally well. The burls are beautiful.

redwood burl
Redwood Burl by Redwood Burl Inc.
redwood bowl
Redwood turned bowl by Redwood Burl Inc.


The Redwoods are being harvested almost ruthlessly and a national effort is being made to preserve some typical stands in parks or reservations. The cable-logging methods are very destructive and wasteful.The lumber is used mainly for planks, boards, and dimension timbers of all types for heavy construction; boxes, crates, planing mill products, sash, doors, and general mill and cabinet work. Some quantities are used in poultry and apiary supplies, tanks, silos, caskets, cigar boxes, outdoor furniture, wood pipe and general uses. Some quantities of the bark are used for insulating purposes. For the home craftsman’s use perhaps the beautiful burls are the most important for making all kinds of novelties, particularly turned articles.


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

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Page last modified on Thursday December 6, 2018 16:42:27 PST by admin.