Think you're important? Stand next to a redwood tree. Try to see the top more than 300 feet above you. Listen the the stillness that has surrounded these giants for more than 1000 years. Walk among the fallen giants that will lie there on the forest floor for hundreds of years before they decompose. Consider the folly of chainsawing one of these wonders to be able to buy a box of tacos. If you're short on heros, consider a young woman who would sit in the top of a tree named Luna for nearly 2 years to save it's life. I appreciate the beauty of redwood lumber, but some things should have priority over man's ability to destroy.

Redwoods, as distinguished from Sequoias, are extremely large, tall, and long lived conifers which are native to the coastal range of central and northern California, and extreme southern Oregon. These trees thrive in extremely wet conditions, areas of the coast range where large quantities of rain fall and summer fog is abundant. Redwoods are charactarized, of course, by their red wood, and extremely thick bark. If you see a tree that looks like a redwood in the Sierras, it is probably a giant sequoia. If you see a tree that looks like a Redwood in the rockies, or another such area, it is probably just a large cedar. There is also a species of redwood native to China, Dawn Redwood, which is one of the only deciduous conifers.

Redwoods are generally accepted to be the tallest trees in the world, although some eucalyptus trees come close. Redwoods may be found in Redwood National Park, Muir Woods, Big Sur, Mendocino National Forest, and various other areas.

Although redwoods are beautiful trees, they usually don't make good landscape trees. If you live in or near an area where redwoods are native, you could give it a try. But give it a lot of room. Although they take thousands of years to reach the 300'+ heights of some of the old giants, they are still very fast growing trees. Their root system is extensive, and extremely shallow, and will tear up anything near the tree. Redwoods also tend to drop massive amounts of litter which tends to kill most things under them. I was once in a redwood forest during a windstorm. The huge trees were shedding 'twigs' which were about as big as trees themselves. Don't plant a redwood close to a structure you like. Also, if you dont get a lot of rain, you will have a lot of trouble keeping a redwood alive. They require a LOT of water and aren't as cold hardy as sequoias.

i once saw a redwood used as a hedge, in the UC Davis Horticulture department no less. Don't use a redwood as a hedge. it's ugly and seems somewhat degrading too. I guess i'm one who believes redwoods are meant to be forest trees, and should be protected everywhere they naturally grow, but arent really meant to be in suburban landscapes.

There is proverb about "not seeing the forest for the trees", and in the case of the Redwood, this can be taken quite literally.

There are some extreme, perhaps even humorous examples of how large Redwood trees can be. There are several Redwood trees that you can drive a car through. There is one Redwood tree where an entire house has been built inside of a single downed trunk. There are superlatively large trees that can require over a dozen people holding hands to encircle. Even if you have never been to California, you have probably seen these pictures, and heard the lore about these massive trees.

Redwoods do not grow as single trees, to be roadside attractions. They grow in forests. Not all Redwoods are novelty-size large, the Redwood forests contain very large trees, and also "medium sized" trees. An average Redwood is still very large, probably the size of a large Douglas-fir, but might not seem awe-inspiring to someone casually driving past it. But it is these "normal" Redwoods that together make up the Redwood forest ecosystem.

What is this ecosystem like? Redwoods grow in the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Coast. These forests start in the Alaska Panhandle, run down through British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, but only at the very south of the Oregon Coast do the Redwood forests begin. In many ways, they are not much different than other areas in the temperate rainforest belt. They have moderate temperatures, with rainfall and humidity concentrated in the winter months, and with dry, warm (but rarely) hot summers. Frosts are uncommon, as are temperatures above 100F. The forests are dominated by pine forests, with deciduous trees, such as alder and maple, being common as pioneer species on disturbed ground or along rivers. There are also other ecosystems, such as wetlands and prairies, interspersed between the forest. For the most part, a redwood forest looks like a Douglas-Fir forest, only more so.

What it is like to actually be in a redwood forest, or even a smaller grove, is hard to describe. Redwood trees are hard to photograph: pictures usually don't capture the scale of the the trunks, so what is a grand view in person just looks like a mishmash of trunks in a photo. Intact Redwood forests also usually have little undergrowth, because the trees shade out smaller plants. They also keep an insulated layer of air, so it is usually several degrees warmer or colder inside the forest than it is outside of it. The air is also very fragrant, and sound seems to be dampened. Being inside a Redwood forest is a hard experience to describe, and it is a step above the impressiveness of the size of an individual tree, even though that is quite impressive.

Red"wood` (-w&oocr;d`), n. Bot. (a)

A gigantic coniferous tree (Sequoia sempervirens) of California, and its light and durable reddish timber. See Sequoia.


An East Indian dyewood, obtained from Pterocarpus santalinus, Caesalpinia Sappan, and several other trees.

⇒ The redwood of Andaman is Pterocarpus dalbergioides; that of some parts of tropical America, several species of Erythoxylum; that of Brazil, the species of Humirium.


© Webster 1913.

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