There is another sequoia species (not to be confused with Giant Sequoia) that is quite remarkable: the Coast Redwood [wiki] (Sequoia sempervirens), the tallest trees in the world.
The reigning champion is a tree called Hyperion in the Redwood National Park, identified by researcher Chris Atkins and amateur naturalist Michael Taylor in 2006. Measuring over 379 feet (
155.6 115 m) tall, Hyperion beat out the previous record holder Stratosphere Giant [wiki] in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (at 370 feet / 112.8 m).
The scientists aren’t talking about the exact location of Hyperion: the terrain is difficult, and they don’t want a rush of visitors to come and trample the tree’s root system.
[Image: The Stratosphere Giant – still an impressive specimen, previously the world’s tallest tree until dethroned by Hyperion in 2006.]
That’s not all that’s amazing about the Coast Redwood: there are four giant California redwoods big enough that you can drive your car through them!
The most famous of the drive-through trees is the Chandelier Tree [wiki] in Leggett, California. It’s a 315 foot tall redwood tree, with a 6 foot wide by 9 foot tall hole cut through its base in the 1930s.
Chandelier Tree. (Image credit: hlh-abg )
(Image credit: Humpalumpa )
Giant Sequoias [wiki] (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which only grow in Sierra Nevada, California, are the world’s biggest trees (in terms of volume). The biggest is General Sherman [wiki] in the Sequoia National Park – one behemoth of a tree at 275 feet (83.8 m), over 52,500 cubic feet of volume (1,486 m³), and over 6000 tons in weight.
General Sherman is approximately 2,200 years old – and each year, the tree adds enough wood to make a regular 60-foot tall tree. It’s no wonder that naturalist John Muir said “The Big Tree is Nature’s forest masterpiece, and so far as I know, the greatest of living things.”
For over a century there was a fierce competition for the title of the largest tree: besides General Sherman, there is General Grant [wiki] at King’s Canyon National Park, which actually has a
larger circumference (107.5 feet / 32.77 m vs. Sherman’s 102.6 feet / 31.27 m).
In 1921, a team of surveyors carefully measured the two
giants – with their data, and according to the complex American Forestry Association system of judging a tree, General Grant should have been award the title of largest tree – however, to simplify the matter, it was later determined that in this case, volume, not point system, should be the determining factor.
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As a hobby, bean farmer Axel Erlandson [wiki] shaped trees – he pruned, bent, and grafted trees into fantastic shapes and called them “Circus Trees.” For example, to make this “Basket Tree” arborsculpture, Erlandson planted six sycamore trees in a circle and then grafted them together to form the diamond patterns.
Basket Tree (Image credit: jpeepz )
The two-legged tree (Image credit: Vladi22, Wikipedia)
Ladder tree (Image credit: Arborsmith)
Axel Erlandson underneath one of his arborsculpture (Image credit: Wilma Erlandson, Cabinet Magazine)
Erlandson was very secretive and refused to reveal his methods on how to grow the Circus Trees (he even carried out his graftings behind screens to protect against spies!) and carried the secrets to his grave.
The trees were later bought by millionaire Michael Bonfante, who transplanted them to his amusement park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy in 1985.