Photo Tour: Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum

The closest living relative of Sequoia sempervirens is Sequoiadendron giganteum, the giant sequoia. These trees are confined to California’s Sierra Nevada, where they reach sizes greater than the biggest living coast redwoods and ages up to 3200 years. Less than one-third of the giant sequoias were logged, because the living trees were ultimately valued more highly than their wood, which is of relatively poor quality for building. My explorations of these forests date to a research expedition led by Jerry Franklin in 1994. Since then I have returned many times to study these remarkable trees.

Other Photo Tours

Doing Canopy Science »

How exactly do scientists explore the tops of the world's tallest trees? Here's a slideshow detailing some of the climbing techniques used in canopy research at Humboldt State University.

Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens »

These five photo tours detail the world's tallest tree species, coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the crown structure of redwood trees, views from old-growth forest canopies, and the unique plants and animals that live hundreds of feet above the ground.

Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii »

Before logging took its toll on the Douglas-fir forests of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, specimens over 400 feet tall were measured. Today the highest concentration of Douglas-firs over 300 feet tall reside in northwestern California amidst the redwoods, as shown in this photo tour.

Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis »

Targeted by loggers for its wood, whose strength to weight ratio is among the highest on Earth, very little old-growth Sitka spruce forest remains. As with Douglas-fir, the highest concentration of Sitka spruce over 300 feet now resides in northwestern California amidst the redwoods.

Eucalyptus regnans »

Eucalyptus regnans is the undisputed tallest flowering plant in the world. There are, for instance, many well-publicized claims of several trees over 400 feet that were either logged or burned in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today the tallest living individual is a 327-foot-tall Tasmanian tree. This photo tour takes you into Australia's tallest forests.