California State Tree: The Giant Redwood

Most people know that the massive Redwood is California’s state tree. Read this article to learn lesser-known facts about these monster trees.

The official name of the California State Tree is the California Redwood. Back in 1937, when it was first given this accolade, the exact species was not defined.

Both the Giants of the Sierra Nevada and the Redwood of the Coastal Forests were two considerable trees, and until 1953, there was much confusion as to exactly which of these trees could be classified as ‘true’ California Redwoods.  

Following an amendment to the bill, both the Giant Sequoia and the Coast Redwood were officially recognized as state symbols. 

Redwood Tree Facts

giant sequoia redwood california state tree

The Giant Sequoia can reach an age of over 3000 years, boasting trunks that span a diameter of over 30-feet-wide.

The Coast Redwood is known to be the tallest tree in the world.

On average, they reach around 300-feet in height. It is thought that Redwoods have been in existence for over 240 million years, and while they once thrived across a vast area throughout the Northern Hemisphere, they are now exclusively found in a stretch of land from Southern Oregon through to Central California. 

Back in the 1700s, Coast Redwoods covered over two million acres of land. Since then, over 95% of these magnificent trees have been harvested, leaving a mere 4%, most of which reside here, under protection in California’s parks. The harvesting of Redwoods, whether held on public or parkland, is prohibited. 

In order to both survive and thrive, California Redwoods are at their best when situated in a moderate coastal climate. They have very shallow root systems and need an abundance of water to drink.

Over the course of a single year, Redwood trees can grow as much as 2-3 feet, making them one of the quickest-growing conifers in the world. 

As a final fact, Redwoods will often grow in a cylindrical cluster that is often given the nickname of a fairy ring. The roots of Californian Redwoods will often intertwine with one another, and baby redwoods are commonly known to sprout at the base of a parent tree, binding themselves to their parent’s roots for a healthy supply of nutrients. 

Are Redwood Trees also sequoias? 

The Giant Sequoia is one of the Sierran species of Redwood, thus making Sequoias and Redwoods one and the same. Sequoia Semperivens is the given scientific name for the Coast Redwood.

How climate change has affected the California state tree

Redwoods face certain problems that are directly impacted by climate change. We’ve already spoken of their constant need for water.

An increasingly warmer climate could lead to less rainfall and less fog, both of which would impact their natural coping mechanisms for dryer spells. 

Aside from looking at how climate change has and will continue to impact the Californian Redwoods, it’s also important to look at the role these state symbols play in the mitigation of climate change.

effects of climate change on california redwood trees

There are many studies (source) starting to emerge that cite the Redwood tree’s ability to absorb and store dangerous carbon, with ancient Californian Redwoods being able to store up to three-time greater the amount of carbon compared to other forests across the globe.

While these studies focus on old-growth and ancient forests with the biggest trees, the findings are highly compelling.

All Redwoods in California are under strict protection, and there are many efforts being made to ensure the Redwood trees of the future can develop into old-growth forests and continue to thrive. 

Thankfully, the state symbolism of the Californian Redwoods and their somewhat iconic status is helping with these vital preservation efforts. 

As your local landscaping and tree service experts, we know a thing or two about native trees in California. If you’d like to hire our local tree services or get help with anything else in your outside space, please contact our team today.  

California Redwood FAQs

tall california redwood sequoia trees

How tall do redwoods get?

Coast Redwoods can grow to a height of over 350-feet. In some areas and with optimal growing conditions, Redwoods can grow anything between 2-10 feet annually.

As such, they are considered to be one of the fastest-growing trees on the planet. Typically, the Californian Redwood will achieve the majority of its vertical growth within its first 100 years of life. 

What is the tallest Redwood ever?

In the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, the General Sherman tree is more than 275-feet in height and over 102-feet wide at its base.

It is thought of as the largest tree in overall volume in the world.  Hyperion was discovered in 2006, and at the last count, it stands taller than 380-feet.

What are the characteristics of a redwood tree?

Old-growth redwoods carry a number of markers on them which develop over time after experiencing various events such as fire, windstorms, floods, etc. However, there are a number of traits that make Redwoods the iconic state symbols they are known to be. 

  • They have very small cone pieces that are just an inch in length
  • They can grow and stand over 300-feet-tall
  • They have a life that is greater than 2000 years
  • Their roots are intertwined and extend up to 100 feet from the base of the tree
  • The tree’s bark is up to 12-inches thick, which can help the tree survive a forest fire
  • They store carbon dioxide; constantly helping us fight climate change 

What are “tunnel trees” at Yosemite Park? 

california redwood tunnel tree

Although its origins are unknown, the Wawona Tunnel Tree was a very well-known Giant Sequoia tree that was situated in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, in California. It stood as tall as 227-feet, with a diameter of 26 feet at the base. 

What is the lifespan of a Coast Redwood?

The average lifespan of a Coast Redwood tree is between 500-700 years overall.

However, it is possible a Coastal Redwood can survive for more than 200 years. 

What are the functions of a ‘ghost redwood?

Also known as Albino Redwood trees, Ghost Redwoods have been in existence since the mid-1800s. In the Pacific Northwest and California, there are more than 400 known Albino Redwoods. 

Typically, these Ghost Redwoods will sprout up from the roots of a normal ‘parent’ tree but don’t usually exceed around 10-feet in height.

Due to a genetic mutation, they lack chlorophyll.

Not only does this mean they are unable to produce their own food, it’s also what gives them their ghost-like whitish appearance. For their survival, they share some of the parent tree’s nutrients. 

Further investigations that started in 2010 looked into the reasons behind their existence. Following many different studies and analyses, the Ghost Redwoods were found to contain elevated levels of heavy metals, such as copper, nickel, and cadmium.

Now, in a healthy tree, these types of metals could cause them to become toxic. It’s thought by many that the Ghost Redwoods we see attached to normal, healthy trees are accumulating the toxins in order to keep them away from their parent trees. 

albino redwood vs normal redwood tree

As your local landscaping and tree service experts, we offer a range of services that can help you get the best from your outside space. If you’d like our help, please get in touch with our team today.  

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Contact our landscaping team today for an honest and accurate quote for your next landscaping project.

Paradise Is Possible

Contact our landscaping team today for an honest and accurate quote for your next landscaping project.