THE BIGGEST OF THE BIG TREES: The top 10 giant sequoias

Giant Forest in the springtime.

Giant sequoia. Just the name inspires the senses to come alive.

Their immense size and cinnamon color is a feast for the eyes. Though the largest trees on Earth, they are soft and gentle to the touch.

The smell of a giant sequoia grove in the early morning, after a rain, or on a warm summer’s day is magical. Breezes can be heard in the uppermost branches of these massive trees that can’t be felt at ground level, and birds call from treetops that are never seen.

The Senate Group via the Congress Trail, Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park.

The largest of these magnificent trees make the tallest buildings seem small. They are wider than most city streets.

They have survived fire and flood and drought. Some have lived for over 2,000 years.

They are worthy of our protection. They have been here since the dawn of time and have much to teach us about life and survival.

Giant sequoias grow only on the west side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in just 75 groves, 30 of which are in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They grow at elevations of 4,000 to 8,400 feet and prefer gentle slopes near moist, yet well-drained soil, alongside streams and meadows.

Nicknamed “Big Trees” for obvious reasons, sequoias, for all their girth, have amazingly shallow root systems. The trees’ bark is their secret to longevity — they don’t die of old age.

More than a million visitors enter Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks each year.

Sequoias are relatively fire resistant, and the wood has a low resin content, which provides further protection. The trees are immune to most fungus diseases, and

Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park.

insects rarely harm them seriously.

Giant sequoias reproduce only from seed. In early summer, the trees offer a picturesque backdrop for the Pacific dogwood, whose white flowers add another magnificent dimension to what is already a unique and spectacular forest scene. In the winter, they are contrasted with the winter’s white snow. In spring, they are surrounded by wildflowers; the orange, red, and golden hues dance in the wind around their bases during autumn.

Join in on this magical journey as we travel to the 10 largest giant sequoias, starting with the largest and the most well-known — the General Sherman Tree in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park.

 

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