Sequoiadendron giganteumGiant Sequoia; Big Tree; Wellingtonia

Family: Taxodiaceae

Origin: Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, California

The world's largest living organism, and one of the longest-lived – one felled tree was found to have been 3,200 years old, and several still standing are aged between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. In Cretaceous times the tree was found over a much wider area, being present in the fossil record from the Isle of Wight and Greenland. It is now restricted to an area only 280 mls long and 20 mls wide, at an altitude between 1,700 and 2,800 m above sea level.

It is a vigorous tree, seen at its best in parkland, with deeply furrowed, reddish-brown outer bark. When young, it has a densely-branched, conical habit; as it matures, the branches become more widely separated and conspicuously down-swept. The tiny, bright green leaves are 6-12 mm long and spirally arranged on the twigs; cones are 5-7.5 cm long, green at first, turning reddish-brown later, borne singly at the tips of short shoots, all over the crown.

Introduced in 1853.

The name Sequoiadendron commemorates the Cherokee Sequoyah from Georgia (1770-1843), who invented the Cherokee alphabet; his name was used for the genus Sequoia, in which this tree was included. When it was decided to move it to its own genus, a new name was created by the addition of the suffix dendron, from the Greek for tree.

Click here to go to the Home Page Click here to go to the South American species list
Cookie Policy :: © National Museums Northern Ireland, 2003