April 04, 2013

Climbing Giant Redwoods Facts

  • The coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) grows in a narrow 450 mile-long strip along the coast from central California into southern Oregon. Today, the range appears to be moving northward.

  • The oldest coast redwood trees are well over 2,000 years old, and continue to increase in size for centuries.

  • The coast redwood is one of the fastest growing conifers, and can grow to over 350 feet tall.

  • The main trunk of a coast redwood can be over twenty feet in diameter, and sometimes the lowest branches are more than 200 feet off the ground.

  • Redwoods are tremendously hearty. Their wood and bark are full of tannins that help the tree resist disease, insects and fires.

  • One unusual characteristic of redwoods is that they keep growing even after being cut. Cut stumps can be encircled dozens of sprouts, forming what are known as “cathedral trees.”

  • Although summers are hot and dry, the redwood can absorb water from coastal fog that settles in during most days. A 350-foot tall redwood might absorb as much as 1,500 pounds of water through its leaves in a summer day!

  • Many animals are endemic to the redwood forest, including black bears and Roosevelt elk. Birds found in the old-growth forest are marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl, both of which prefer nesting in old-growth groves. The lungless wandering salamander absorbs oxygen through its skin. Some appear to live their entire lives in the forest canopy, never setting foot on the ground.

  • Until recently, very little was known about the redwood canopy, which has been found to support an entire ecosystem containing more standing biomass than any other ecosystem on earth.

  • In the mid-nineteenth century, European settlers began logging of redwood forests with axes and handsaws, and later, machinery made logging much more efficient, and much of the redwood forest began to disappear. Today, ninety-five percent of the original 2 million acres of coast redwood have been logged.

  • In the 1980s and 1990s, vigorous demonstrations erupted to protest against logging practices and to save old-growth redwood stands.

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