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Giant Redwoods and Sequoias

Giant redwoods and giant sequoias look similar - but are they really the same thing? Find out what makes these two amazing species of tree both alike and very different.

Known for sky-scraping forests unique to this corner of the world, California draws visitors from all over the globe to the land of towering giants. Defining the landscape at mesmerizing heights, and with a truly distinctive appearance, these ancient forest stands are made of up sequoias and redwoods, some of the most fascinating and unique trees on Earth.

Sequoias and giant redwoods are often referred to interchangeably, though they are two very different, though equally remarkable, species of tree. Both naturally occurring only in California, these two species share a distinctive cinnamon-colored bark and the proclivity for growing to overwhelming heights. Both also require very specific, though very distinct, climates to survive.

For more information about the trees, plants and animals of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, visit any one of our shops within the parks and take time to visit the Visitor Centers and Museums.

Giant Redwoods

Known as both the giant redwood and the coastal redwood, Sequoia sempervirens differs from its relative the giant sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, primarily in the environment it requires. As its nickname suggests, giant or coastal redwoods thrive in the moist, humid climate of the Northern California coast, where marine fog delivers precise conditions necessary for its growth. The fog adds moisture to the soil and helps trap it there by lowering the rate of evaporation.

Giant redwoods typically outreach their giant cousins in height, standing up to 378 feet tall.

Giant Sequoias

Giant sequoias thrive in higher elevation habitats than giant redwoods and grow naturally only along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, primarily between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Giant sequoias require the periodic dry heat of the mountains in order for their cones to open and release seeds.

Still reaching impressive heights of up to 311 feet, giant sequoias are typically shorter than their coastal relations. What they lack in height, however, they make up for in size, usually outweighing giant redwoods substantially.

Through sheer incredible volume, giant sequoias claim the title of largest tree in the world. Known as General Sherman, this most giant of sequoias weighs a staggering 2.7 million pounds and stands 275 feet tall from its base, which is more than 100 feet wide. Not only is General Sherman the largest living tree, it also owns the title of largest living organism on the planet.

More About Redwoods and Sequoias

Giant Redwoods

  • Live up to 2,000 years
  • Have branches up to 5 feet in diameter
  • Bark grows up to 12 inches thick
  • Can reproduce either by seed or by sprout
Giant Sequoias
  • Live up to 3,000 years
  • Have branches up to 8 feet in diameter
  • Bark grows up to 3 feet thick
  • Reproduce by seed only

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