Tree Species Profiles: Redwood Trees
Probably one of the most famous of trees, redwoods are only found on the Pacific Coast today. These trees are breathtaking for many people who see them in person. While I’ve never seen them personally, a trip to a redwood forest is very high on my bucket list.
Today, we’re profiling these beautiful trees, taking a look at their history and some amazing facts about them.
Growth of a Redwood
The oldest surviving redwood—also known as its Latin name, Sequoia sempervirens—is believed to be around 2,200 years old. Still, some people think there may be older redwoods in the forest. These trees typically reach an average age of 600 years old.
As the tallest trees on earth, redwoods can grow to nearly 370 feet high with a base width of 22 feet. The current California redwoods have been around for 20 million years, but the species itself has been around for 160 million years. That’s long enough to have seen the life of dinosaurs!
No one really knows why redwoods can grow as tall as they do. In comparison, the tallest pine tree known to man is 268 feet tall. But one amazing fact we do know about them is that they work to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.
The roots of a redwood only go down about 13 feet, and those roots move water—hundreds of gallons of it—each day up to the crown of the trees. However, because their roots only go down 13 feet, these trees can be uprooted by wind—this is one of their biggest threats in the forest.
But it’s not as easy as that to uproot them. Redwoods work against this by growing their roots out nearly 50 feet from their trunks and intertwining them with the roots of nearby redwoods.
Survival on the West Coast
Today, you can only find redwoods on the west coast. Why? Well, it’s all in the environment. The Pacific Coast’s cool, moist air is ideal for keeping these trees damp through summer droughts.
Fog plays a big role in that, too; it provides almost 40% of the moisture redwood forests get throughout the year. These trees are resistant not only to bugs but also fire, which no doubt also plays a role in their long lives.
The wood of a redwood contains a high content of tennin, which helps to keep insect damage nearly nonexistent, as well as provides resistance to diseases, fungus, and fire.
Speaking of being resistant to fire, a redwood can regenerate in truly amazing ways. Unlike other trees, redwoods can regenerate directly from a downed or damaged tree’s root system, and a cut or fire-damaged trunk can even sprout a new tree.
Plus, the fact that it boasts thick bark and that its leaves and branches are high above the ground help to deter fire from spreading among them.
The soil in a redwood forest contributes to plenty of other healthy, beautiful trees, greenery, and fungi. A fallen redwood decomposes and becomes part of that rick soil, keeping the forest beautiful and thriving for years to come.
This process is necessary for the health of these forest because the soil gets little nutrients with the small amount of rainfall it gets throughout the year.