Giant Sequoia Tree Pictures and Facts of (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Picture of a Giant Sequoia Tree
The Sentinel Tree Giant Sequoia Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Picture of the "Sentinel" Tree, a Giant Sequoia Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

The Giant Sequoia or Giant Redwood Tree, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), also commonly known as Sierra Redwood, Bigtree, or Wellingtonia, is a Coniferous Evergreen. It is the only extant species in the Sequoiadendron genus, as the other species are extinct. Giant Sequoia trees are some of the biggest trees on Earth.

Facts about Giant Sequoia, (Sequoiadendron giganteum) species of trees for identification;
  • Species Scientific Name = Sequoiadendron giganteum
  • Genus Latin Name Pronunciation: "see-kwoy-uh-DEN-dron"
  • Genus Latin Name Meaning: Sequoia - Dendron; Sequoia: Named from the Latin word "sequi" for sequence / following. Dendron: The Latin word "dendron" for tree.
  • Species Latin Name Pronunciation: "jy-GAN-tee-um", or "gy-GAN-tee-um".
  • Species Latin Name Meaning: Large or Gigantic.
  • Species Common Names = Giant Sequoia, Giant Redwood, Bigtree, Sierra redwood, Sierran redwood, Wellingtonia. List of Sequoiadendron giganteum Vernacular Names
  • Synonyms: Sequoia gigantea, Taxodium giganteum, Wellingtonia gigantea.
The Giant Sequoia's Native Lands

The Giant Sequoia's native distribution is in isolated groves at about 3,000ft - 8,900ft (900m - 2700m) in elevation on the western foothill slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, USA. The "Redwood" tree is the State tree of California, this title includes two species, the Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) trees.

Biggest Trees on Earth, the Giant Sequoia

General Sherman Giant Sequoia Tree
The General Sherman Tree
a Giant Sequoia
(Sequoiadendron giganteum),
The largest single tree on Earth

The Giant Sequoia is well known for being the largest single living organism on Earth by volume / weight, or correctly, being the largest single stem plant on Earth. Tree clone colonies are much larger in combined volume, such as an Aspen Grove, all stemmed from one individual tree, see Pando.

  • Largest Tree on Earth by Wood Volume:
    The largest individual tree that is currently known is the tree called General Sherman, with an estimated trunk wood volume of 52,508 cubic feet (1,486.9 m3). This does not include the branches or roots, just the bole (Trunk). Additionally the2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th largest trees on earth are all Giant Sequoia's, see list below.
    1. The Largest tree on Earth is a Giant Sequoia named "General Sherman", with a trunk volume of 52,508 cubic feet (1,486.9 m3).
    2. The second largest tree known as the "General Grant" tree, with a trunk volume of 46,608 cubic feet (1,319.8 m3).
    3. The third largest tree: The "President" tree, Vol: 45,148 cu ft (1,278 m3)
    4. The fourth largest tree: The "Lincoln" tree, Vol: 44,471 cu ft (1,259 m3)
    5. The fifth largest tree: The "Stagg" tree, Vol: 42,557 cu ft (1,205 m3)
    6. The sixth largest tree: The "Boole" tee, Vol: 42,472 cu ft (1,203 m3)
    The above trees are all Giant Sequoia's, the 7th largest tree on earth is a Coast redwood tree called "Lost Monarch" with a wood volume of 42,378 cubic feet (1,200 m3).
  • Some of the Tallest Trees:
    Giant Sequoia's make up some of the tallest trees of trees on Earth, they rank as 5th place in the list of tallest species. The tallest Giant Sequoia is 95.8 m (314 ft) tall, and is located in the Sequoia National Forest, California, USA. The tallest tree on earth belongs to a close relative species, the Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) reaching to 115.72 m (379'-8")in height.
  • One of the Stoutest Trees:
    The Giant Sequoia ranks 3rd in the list of species of trees with the widest trunks. The Giant Sequoia with the largest trunk diameter is the "Boole" tree, with a dbh (diameter at breast height) of 898 cm or diameter of 8.98 m (29'-5.5") at 4'-3" above ground level. This tree is located in the Converse Basin grove, Kings Canyon National Park, California, USA.
  • One of the Oldest Trees:
    Giant Sequoia trees can live for thousands of years, as their immense size requires many years to grow. The oldest Giant Sequoia is known as "Muir Snag" and is about 3,266 years old.

Giant Sequoia are Protected Trees

General Grant Giant Sequoia Tree
The General Grant Tree
a Giant Sequoia
(Sequoiadendron giganteum)

The pioneering American conservationist John Muir spearheaded a public outcry at the early destruction (logging) of the Giant Sequoia trees and entire groves. His efforts helped conserve some of the reaming Giant Sequoia trees and groves with the creation of the "Sequoia National Park" on September 26th, 1890, then the second national park, after Yellowstone, to be created in the USA.

Nowadays all wild Giant Sequoia groves are protected, and nearly all them are located on public lands, making them easy to visit. The most impressive, well known and accessible groves are in; Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park.

Recently the Giant Sequoia trees received even more protection and formal recognition when President Clinton designated Giant Sequoia National Monument on April 15, 2000. The Proclamation establishing the Monument states;

"These giant sequoia groves and the surrounding forest provide an excellent opportunity to understand the consequences of different approaches to forest restoration. These forests need restoration to counteract the effects of a century of fire suppression and logging. Fire suppression has caused forests to become denser in many areas, with increased dominance of shade-tolerant species. Woody debris has accumulated, causing an unprecedented buildup of surface fuels. One of the most immediate consequences of these changes is an increased hazard of wildfires of a severity that was rarely encountered in pre-Euroamerican times. Outstanding opportunities exist for studying the consequences of different approaches to mitigating these conditions and restoring natural forest resilience."

Foliage Pictures of the Giant Sequoia:
Giant Sequoia Seed Cones (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Giant Sequoia Seed Cones (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
This Photo has been re-sized to scale correctly 1:1,
Click above to read more.

Growing Giant Sequoia, Redwood Trees

Giant Sequoia Hardiness;

Sequoiadendron giganteum is hardy to USDA hardiness Zone 7a, cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C (0°F and 10°F), or in the UK, RHS hardiness rating of H6. However there are some Giant Sequoia Cultivars such as 'Hazel Smith', that have survived temperatures of -31°C (-25°F) or colder for short periods of time. Survival at these temperatures may rely on in part to adequate ground insulation around the roots provided by mulch, or heavy snow. A sheltered location away from direct exposure to heavy winds during the winter (to avoid windburn, it damages the leaves) may also help survival rates.

Giant Sequoia as Ornamental specimen or Landscape Trees

It should be mentioned that the Giant Sequoia is a vigorous growing tree and can reach a height of 10 m (30 ft) after 10 years, and reaches a height of 30 m (100 ft) to 40 m (130 ft) after 50 years. I mention this because I have seen this tree planted in urban locations that were not well suited, mainly because the area is not large enough to accommodate the tree once it reaches a mature size.

Another thing to bear in mind is the width of its branches, a clear area of at least 6-10 m (20'-33') radius from the tree trunk must be maintained overhead, this includes the other trees. A very young Giant Sequoia will grow its lowest and widest branches from the trunk from just above ground level. These may be pruned later, but the tree will eventually loose them naturally given enough time.

I would recommend the Giant Sequoia for planting in large ornamental gardens, such as those for public viewing, or in parks. Avoid planting near any buildings! Once the tree gets larger there is a danger from falling branches. Additionally, Giant Sequoia tree roots are shallow wide spreading lateral roots, only reaching a depth of 1 to 2 m (3' to 6'), and up to 60 - 120m (200 - 400ft) in length from the trunk.

The Giant Sequoia is a monoecious tree, which means that both the male and female parts are located on the same tree. To produce pollinated viable Giant Sequoia seeds there only needs to be one tree, therefore not necessary to plant more than one Giant Sequoia tree, or have others nearby.

Growing Giant Sequoia in Europe:

The Giant Sequoia has been grown in Europe since 1853, pioneered by Scotsman John D. Matthew, who collected a small quantity of seed in the Calaveras Grove, California, and bringing them to Scotland. The growth rates in some areas of Europe are remarkably very fast. For example; On the British Isles the tallest Giant Sequoia tree (at Benmore in southwest Scotland), reached 54 m (177 ft) in 150 years. Another example; A young Giant Sequoia tree in Italy reached 22 m (72 ft) tall and 0.88 m (2'-10⅝") trunk diameter in 17 years (Mitchell, 1972).

Giant Sequoia's are documented as growing successfully in Countries such as Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Czech Republic, and Poland to name a few.

List of Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) Cultivars

There are commercially available the following Giant Sequoia Cultivar Forms; blue, compact, grass green, pygmy, weeping, and variegated. Most of these are found in Europe.

'Argentea Spicata' or 'Argenteospica'
'Aurea' or 'Aureum'
'Ayers Rock'
'Barabits Requiem'
'Barts Green'
'Blauer Eichzwerg'
'Blue Iceberg'
'Bultinck Yellow' or 'Butnick Yellow'
'Conrad Appel'
'Cream Tower'
'Curley Green'
'Exceptionally Blue'
'France Beauty' or 'French Beauty'
'Glauca' or 'Glaucum'
'Glaucum Compactum'
'Green Lightening'
'Green Stone'
'Hazel Smith'
'Konrad Apple'
'Lacy Blue'
'Little Stan'
'Luzi' or 'Luzzi'
'Moonie Mini' or 'Moonies Mini'
'Nana' or 'Nanum'
'Pendula' or 'Pendulum'
'Petes Fastigiate'
'Pevé Bonsai'
'Philip Curtis'
'Powder Blue' or 'Powdered Blue'
'Pyramidale Glaucum' or 'Pyramidalis Glauca'
'Sulfurea', 'Sulphurea' or 'Sulphureum'
'Variegata' or 'Variegatum'
'Von Martin'
'Wittbold Muller'
'Yellow Stone'

List of Sequoiadendron giganteum Vernacular Names

English: Giant Sequoia, Giant Redwood, Wellingtonia, Bigtree, Sierra-redwood
العربية: سكويا عملاقة
беларуская: Секвоядэндран
български: Гигантска секвоя
català: Sequoia gegant
čeština: Sekvojovec obrovský
dansk: Mammuttræ
Deutsch: Riesenmammutbaum
Esperanto: Sekvojadendro
español: Secuoya gigante
eesti: Mammutipuu
فارسی: درخت غول
suomi: Mammuttipetäjä
français: Séquoia géant
עברית: סקוויה ענקית
hrvatski: Golemi mamutovac
magyar: Óriás mamutfenyő
Ido: Sequoyo
italiano: Sequoia gigante
日本語: セコイアデンドロン
한국어: 세쿼이아덴드론
Перем Коми: Секвойядендрон
коми: Секвойядендрон
Latina: Sequoiadendron
lietuvių: Didysis mamutmedis
македонски: Џиновска секвоја
кырык мары: Секвойядендрон
Nederlands: Mammoetboom
norsk bokmål: Mammuttre
polski: Mamutowiec olbrzymi
português: Sequoia-gigante
русский: Секвойядендрон
slovenčina: Sekvojovec mamutí
slovenščina: Mamutovec
svenska: Mammutträd
удмурт: Секвойядендрон
українська: Секвоядендрон
West-Vlams: Mammoetbôom
中文: 巨杉