6. Coast Redwood

(Sequoia sempervirens)

Other Common Name: California Redwood

Family: Cupressaceae

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A commanding Coast Redwood decorates Stevens way east of Anderson Hall. Stand under its wide branches, stare at its enormous trunk, and become keenly aware why it is a world famous species. Giant growth, especially lofty height, and its habit of forming pure forests of red pillars on the fog-shrouded coast of northern California, are what make it so special. Its needles are about an inch (2.5 centimeters) long, flat, and rather resemble yew foliage but are stiffer. The cones are thimble-size. Across the street in the Medicinal Herb Garden, is the Sierra or Giant Redwood, a mountainous peak 106 feet (32 meters) tall. Dawn Redwood is the deciduous Chinese cousin of these Californians.

Coast Redwood lumber is highly valued because it is attractive, light weight, and decay resistant. It is also fire resistant because it has relatively low resin content. It was commonly used as railroad ties and trestles throughout California, and wood from burls formed by this species is prized for the production of table tops and veneers. The world’s tallest living organism is a Coast Redwood in Redwood National Park in northern California. It is known as Hyperion, measuring 379.3 feet (115.61 meters) tall. Coast Redwoods reproduce sexually and asexually. Sexual seed crops occur frequently, but seed viability is low, typically below 15%. Asexually the trees can reproduce through sprouting from the root crown, stump, or even fallen branches.

[Leaves and cones of the Coast Redwood]

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