Graves, Arthur H. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut.
Davis, Kenneth P. School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:July 2020
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An extremely large tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum. The sequoia or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum; formerly, Sequoia gigantea) [see illustration] is the only extant species of the genus Sequoiadendron (subfamily Sequoioideae, family Cupressaceae, order Pinales). This tree, which is also known as Sierra redwood or big tree, occupies a limited area in California and is said to be the most massive of all living things. The leaves of the sequoia tree are evergreen, scalelike, and overlapping on the branches. In height, the giant sequoia can reach 90–100 m (300–330 ft), which is a close second to the redwood, but the trunk is more massive. Sequoia trees may be 8–9 m (26–30 ft) in diameter at 3 m (10 ft) above the ground. The stump of one tree has been found to have 3400 annual rings. The red-brown bark has a thickness of 0.3–0.6 m (1–2 ft) and is spongy. The trunk has a fluted appearance as a result of the presence of vertical grooves. The heartwood is dull purplish-brown, and it is lighter and more brittle than that of the redwood. Sequoias are marketed only rarely because the loss in felling the trees is extremely great, the logs are difficult to handle, and the wood is very brittle. The wood and bark contain much tannin (tannic acid), which is probably the cause of the tree's great resistance to insect and fungus attack. See also: Dendrochronology; Forest; Forestry; Pinales; Redwood; Tree; Tree growth
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