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A Guide to the Giant Sequoias of Yosemite National Park (1949) by James W. McFarland


SIZE OF THE GIANT SEQUOIAS

The giant sequoia is unchallenged in size among the members of the plant world. No other species even closely competes with the vast volume of wood in the trunks of some of the larger specimens which rise as immense columns, gradually tapering for almost 300 feet into the sky.

This species, however, is exceeded in height by several others. The coast redwood, the world’s tallest tree, reaches a height of 364 feet. This is attained by the Founders’ Tree, dedicated to the memory of the founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League. It is located on North Dyerville Flat, about 800 feet east of Dyerville Bridge in Humboldt County, California. The Douglasfir, tallest tree of the Pacific Northwest, reaches a height of 324 feet. It is located near Ryderwood, Washington. The Eucalyptus or mountain gum of Australia reaches a maximum height of 326 feet, on Mount Baw Baw, near Melbourne, Australia. Thus the giant sequoia is probably fourth in height at about 300 feet. However, none of these other tall trees exceed 20 feet in diameter 4 1/2 feet above the ground, while the Grizzly Giant, itself, is 34.7 feet in diameter at the ground level.

In diameter and circumference the giant sequoia is probably exceeded by only a single tree. A Tule cypress, far exceeding in size any other of that species, near Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico, has a diameter of 36.1 feet and a circumference of 113 feet. This tree, however, is only 130 feet tall.* [* Recent research indicates a probability that this is more than one tree, grown together at the base. ]

The vast size of the giant sequoia is difficult to comprehend fully. It is so out of proportion to commonly recognized measurements of trees or other familiar objects that figures regarding size do not register a clear picture of its vastness. One of the best illustrations is that furnished by a single branch of the Grizzly Giant in the Mariposa Grove. This branch is 6 feet in diameter as it turns upward from the trunk over 95 feet above the ground (see cover photo). Thus it is larger than the largest specimens of many more familiar tree species, yet, in itself, is an inconspicuous part of the tree.


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