Redwoods grow in a narrow strip along the Pacific Coast of Calif. and southwestern Oregon.

Giant sequoias grow only in the Sierra Nevada's west slope.


Coast redwoods tower over all other trees in the world. Redwood forests developed the world's greatest volume of living matter per unit of land surface. Giant sequoias, their cousins, grow larger in diameter and bulk but not in height. Coast redwoods survive to be about 2,000 years old, averaging 500 to 700 years. They have no known killing diseases and suffer no significant insect damage. The bark has chemicals (tannins) which make it remarkably fire resistant.

In the Age of Dinosaurs redwood species dominated much of the Northern Hemisphere, including today's Arctic. Climate change over millennia reduced redwood habitat to this narrow, fog-bound coastal corridor. Coast redwoods reproduce by seeds and by stump sprouting. Seeds slightly larger than a pinhead are released from mature cones that ripen in August and September. If a redwood is felled or badly burned, a ring of new trees sprouts from burls around the trunk's base. Circular stands of these family groups are common. These saplings use the parent tree's root system. Redwoods have no taproot; their roots penetrate only 10-13 feet depth and spread out just 60-80 feet.

The Role of Fog

The passage of air warmed by inland head over cold, near-shore waters creates fog here almost daily in the summer. Fog plays a two-fold role that helps approximate the mild, moist climate that prevailed in the Age of Dinosaurs when redwood species grew over much of North America. Bathing redwood forests, the frequent summer fogs bring relief from dry summers and decrease the amount of water lost through leaf surfaces. Also fog collects on trees and its dripping contributes additional precipitation. Fog is not essential to redwoods, but its absence would reduce their range.


The Coast Redwood


Giant Sequoia Facts:

Height: to 311 ft.
Age: to 3,200 years
Bark: to 31 in. thick
Base: to 40 ft. diam.

Reproduce: by seed only
Seed size: like oat flakes
Cone size: like chicken's eggs

Coast Redwood Facts:

Height: to 367.8 ft.
Age: to 2,000 years
Bark: to 12 in. thick
Base: to 22 ft. diam.

Reproduce: by seed or sprout
Seed size: like tomato seeds
Cone size: like a large olive



Source: Official Map and Guide for Redwood National and State Parks