Curious about the Redwood Forest?
Our Top 10 Redwood Tree Facts
1. Tallest tree on Earth
Your local coast redwood tree can grow to 300 feet or more, compared to the tallest pine tree at 268 feet or the tallest tanoak at 162 feet — yet its root system is only 6 to 12 feet deep. Redwoods create the strength to withstand powerful winds and floods by extending their roots more than 50 feet from the trunk and living in groves where their roots can intertwine.
2. As old as the dinosaurs — almost
The earliest redwoods showed up on Earth shortly after the dinosaurs – and before flowers, birds, spiders… and, of course, humans. Redwoods have been around for about 240 million years and in California for at least 20 million years, compared to about 200,000 years for “modern” humans.
3. See 2,000-year-old redwoods here
Officially, the oldest living coast redwood is at least 2,200 years old, but foresters believe some coast redwoods may be much older.
4. Ancient Old-Growth – and Aspiring Youngsters
Most of the redwoods we see are about 50-150 years old. That’s equivalent to about age 2-6 in human years! Coast redwoods can grow 100 feet in their first 50 years, so they quickly look like grown-ups. So, when you walk or ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains, remember you are in a nursery of young redwoods that, if protected, can live for 2,000 years and can help rebuild a healthy redwood forest for people, wildlife and future generations.
5. Here and only here
Coast redwoods grow only one place on Earth – right here on the Pacific coast, from Big Sur to southern Oregon. Earlier in the Earth’s history, redwoods had a much wider range, including western North America and the coasts of Europe and Asia.
6. Latin or English: Semper-who?
The familiar local redwood tree has an official Latin name, Sequoia sempervirens. That’s why the local nonprofit organization working to protect, expand and care for the local redwood forests is called “Sempervirens Fund.”
7. Climate change heroes
Trees are crucial to maintaining a stable human-friendly climate. Studies show that coast redwoods capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from our cars, trucks and power plants than any other tree on Earth. And, as the climate changes, the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains are one of very few places that can provide a refuge for plants and animals here to survive, because the area has many microclimates, is cooled by coastal summertime fog and is still largely unpaved.
8. Wild animals thrive here
Wild, endangered creatures like mountain lions, Coho salmon and marbled murrelet depend on the local redwood forests. They need large, connected areas of diverse habitat to thrive among us humans.
9. Sturdy Survivors
Redwoods live so long – and are treasured by humans for building – because they are extremely resistant to insects, fire and rot. At one time, San Francisco’s building codes required redwood lumber to be used in the foundations of new structures. A redwood’s bark can be one foot thick, and it contains tannin which protects the tree from fire, insects, fungus and diseases.
10. We can all help the forest recover — and help us thrive
Today, we have a rare chance to re-establish the once-vast and vibrant local redwood forest into a magnificent, life-giving world between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean. With a little help from us to get started, the redwood forest can recover from the massive logging and fragmentation that took place during the last 150 years. It will take care of itself – and all the wild animals, plants and us – for thousands and even millions of years to come.