I love the accidental art
of the coffee cup rings
on the back of this
postcard featuring a
tree with many hundreds
of age-indicating rings.
Consider this for a moment:
These largest of living things are from an ancient line, and near-redwoods were present on earth at the same time as the dinosaur. Once found almost world-wide, their natural range is now restricted to the foggy coastal belt of Northern California (the sequoia sempervirens), a strip in the Sierra Nevada mountains of sequoiadendron gigantia and a small group of meta sequoia (Dawn Redwood) in a remote valley in China. These are the only living forests left of a tree line that at one time spanned the earth.
The above paragraph is taken from the About Redwoods sidebar tab at the Trees of Mystery. The website
introduces itself and the park with these words:
Directly in the center of the Redwood National and State Parks, we are CALIFORNIA'S REDWOOD nature attraction and have been welcoming visitors to this part of the world for over 50 years. We are the premier Nature Attraction on California's North Coast. Welcome to the California Redwoods!
It is an interesting website, with a tab featuring three of the "Big Trees" (great photos), but nothing specifically about The Elephant Tree. Not having it mentioned at the website when in the past there were postcards published about it makes me wonder (and hope not) that it may have rotted or burned. With an attraction that includes shopping, dining, and the "Sky Trail," a gondola ride up in the treetops, maybe The Elephant Tree simply lost favor with tourists and is no longer a big deal. I did see it mentioned as late as 2006 in comments at one of those online travel sites.
In any case, The Elephant Tree and the other trees at Trees of Mystery and Redwoods National and State Parks are Redwoods, or sequoia sempervirens, while the tree that many of you saw in the video released last week...the twin-giant that fell in a California forest, with the fall captured by a tourist from Germany, was a Giant Sequoia, or sequoiadendron gigantia. It was not in northern California with the Redwoods, but was in the Sequoia National Forest, inside Giant Sequoia National Monument.
This map indicates in a yellow block the location of The Redwood National Forest, which is near the area of the Trees of Mystery (site of The Elephant Tree). [Source: Redwood National Park website]
This map from the Sequoia National Forest website shows the location where the Sequoia recently fell to the forest floor.
I've written in prior post(s) that the difference between Redwoods and Sequoias became important to me when, eleven years ago, we purchased the small divided lot to the side and back of our house in order to save the three Giant Sequoias living there from certain removal. That happened to their sibling (once there were four) on the part of the divided lot we did not purchase, and an ordinary house replaced it. A neighbor counted the rings of the felled Sequoia before the stump removal crews came, and I recorded the age on our calendar. Our three trees just celebrated their 83rd birthday! They are mere babes compared to the naturally-growing Sequoias and Redwoods! Some of you may remember a video (1.57) I posted in February of our dogs enjoying a light snowfall under the Sequoias in our yard. It may be viewed here.
- To view that short but amazing video clip of the twin-Sequoias falling, click here.
- To read the Forest Service press release dated September 30, 2011, see Giant Sequoia Tree Falls, Forces Closure of Trail of 100 Giants.
- A park ranger discusses the historic occasion of the Sequoias falling while viewing several scenes of the fallen trees in this video.
- For the true story about what Ronald Reagan had to say about trees, specifically Redwoods, visit this factsheet at snopes.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GIANT SEQUOIA AND REDWOOD
ALTHOUGH the giant sequoia and redwood are closely related, they exhibit many individual characteristics that distinguish them from each other. Perhaps the following major differences will help to answer some of the questions that may come to mind.
Natural habitat.—The giant sequoia is found growing singly or in groups scattered for a distance of 250 miles along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in central California at elevations of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. The redwood grows near the Pacific Ocean along the northern California coast in a more or less continuous belt about 450 miles long and 15 miles wide. (See Distribution Map on the Inside Back Cover.)
Method of reproduction.—Both species reproduce from seed, but the redwood is one of the few conifers that is also able to develop sprouts from cut stumps, roots, and burls.
Foliage.—The foliage of the giant sequoia is scalelike and somewhat resembles that of the junipers; redwood foliage is in the form of two-ranked needles like the hemlock.
Shape and size.—The giant sequoia is the largest tree in the world in volume and has an immense trunk with very slight taper; the redwood is the world's tallest tree and has a slender trunk.
Cones and seed.—The cones and seed of the giant sequoia are about three times the size of those produced by the redwood.
Woody structure.—The wood of the giant sequoia is much coarser in texture than that of the redwood, and growth rings of the redwood are wider. Both woods are highly resistant to decay.
Color of bark.—The bark of the giant sequoia is bright reddish brown, whereas that of the redwood is a dull chocolate brown.