Redwoods Sequoia sempervirens

by the GRWC Student Interns…

Seventeen ft. diameter redwood tree on Rockpile Creek – 1906


One of the most prominent and well-known symbols of the northern California coast is of course the coast redwood tree. Redwoods are huge evergreen trees from the cypress family. The tallest tree in the world and tallest redwood is 379.1 feet, in Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt County. Redwood Trees are very good at re-growing from their stumps, fallen trees, roots, and burls (which are growths formed when the tree is subjected to any kind of irritation or stress).

Redwood with burls - Buckeye Creek Gualala

There are no diseases that destroy the redwood, and no parasites can do life threatening damage. Redwoods can survive to be over 2,000 years old, but average at 500 to 800 years. Although this seems like a very long life, it is only half the life of the coast redwoods relative, the endangered giant sequoia.

Redwood trees often live near water, but have trouble living too close to the ocean because of salt water spray and wind. They grow best near rivers, and streams. Redwood trees also grow well in valleys or places with lots of fog and mist. This is because during the drier seasons of the year, redwoods absorb most of their moisture through their leaves from air moisture.

Redwoods can grow from one of two ways; they can germinate from the small cones found near the tops of the trees, or they can grow from roots and fallen trees as previously mentioned. Surprisingly, the more common of the two is re-growth, as only one or two in ten seeds will even germinate, let alone survive. It is much easier for a young tree to grow from roots, stumps, or a downed tree because the baby trees can feed off the parent, whereas seedlings have to start from scratch, and get no help.