How long can sequoia trees live

Sequoia Research - Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Scientists study many aspects of giant sequoias, including the role of fire to maintain a healthy grove. Left: Mariposa Grove in 1890 showing natural conditions prior to fire suppression. Right: Same location in Mariposa Grove in 1970. You'll notice a dense understory of fir trees after an 80-year absence of fire. In 2000, a prescribed burn restored the area to its pre-suppression conditions.


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Yosemite National Park's massive giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) live in three groves in the park. The most easily accessible of these is the Mariposa Grove near the park's South Entrance. Two smaller—and less visited—groves are the Tuolumne and Merced Groves near Crane Flat.

With necks craning to see these tall trees, visitors often ask: "How old is that tree?" Just how long can certain Yosemite tree species live? Whitebark pine, Western juniper and Douglas-fir can live more than 1,000 years while giant sequoias can live more than 3,000 years.

Giant sequoias are the third longest-lived tree species with the oldest known specimen to have been 3,266 years old in the Converse Basin Grove of Giant Sequoia National Monument. Giant sequoias are only outlived by bristlecone pines (oldest age recorded at 4,844 years in the Great Basin) and by Alerce trees (oldest age recorded at 3,639 years in Chile). Yosemite’s famous Grizzly Giant in the Mariposa Grove is estimated to be about 3,000 years old plus or minus a few centuries, which is nothing to a giant sequoia.


In 2019, refined scientific dating methods resulted in a new age estimate for the Grizzly Giant: 2,995 years old (plus or minus 250 years).

Scientists currently rank the Grizzy Giant's large size, or volume, as No. 25. The largest sequoia by volume is the General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park. These large giant sequoias often owe their size to rapid growth rather than age, so an old giant sequoia will not necessarily be the largest specimen.

The study of visitor use impacts on sequoias, particularly compaction and erosion of soils near the base of the trees due to trampling, has long concerned ecologists. In 1962, a University of Michigan academic assessed human impacts on the Mariposa Grove to inform park management. Twenty-first century scientists applaud this early recognition to study and to measure how human's actions might prove detrimental to the giant sequoia's health and vigor.

The large Sierra snowpack provides much needed moisture to the trees as it slowly melts during the spring. Sequoias have a relatively shallow but extensive root system, reaching to over a hundred feet in all directions from their base. These roots capture the groundwater which allows the trees to survive the long, hot summers of Yosemite; a healthy root structure is essential to ensure their longevity.

The Mariposa Grove reopened in June, 2018, after being closed three years for restoration. The two primary goals of this project were to improve giant sequoia habitat and visitor experience. This included addressing the declining conditions of the Grove and nearby South Entrance that were adversely affecting the ecological health of the sequoias (e.g., roads, trails and other buildings encroaching on roots of the ancient trees, hydrology issues). Crews improved habitat for sequoias by removing parking lots and roads, and restoring the natural flow of water to the trees. Parking was relocated two miles away from the grove, and is connected by shuttle buses. The restoration also added accessible trails and improved bathrooms. This was the largest restoration project in the history of the park.


Giant Sequoias and Fire

Naturally occurring fire by lightning would have historically occurred in Yosemite's sequoia groves frequently, burning the areas with lower intensity surface fires. Therefore, large giant sequoias are adapted to survive repeated fires. They have a thick, fibrous bark that insulates them from the heat of a fire. Additionally, sequoias tend to drop their lower branches as they grow taller and older which helps avoid fire from climbing up to the tops of the trees into the canopy. Fire is also essential in helping sequoias with seed dispersal. The heat from a fire in a sequoia grove helps to dry out the older cones high in the tree. Once open, the seeds flutter down to the new perfectly bare soil that fire has just made available. Giant sequoias need abundant sunshine, so after a fire travels through a sequoia grove, clearing out dead and downed wood and smaller trees, it leaves behind sunny gaps for these new seeds to grow.

For centuries, American Indians introduced fire to create better hunting, grazing, and living conditions. Many of the beautiful and productive forests that greeted early European-American settlers in the area were actually crafted by American Indians through manipulation by fire. American Indians have understood the beneficial and natural role fire plays in ecosystems for thousands of years. Upon the arrival of European-Americans and early park managers, it was largely believed that fires were destructive and sequoia groves in particular should be protected from fire. Fire suppression was the primary management tool from the 1860s through the 1960s. During that 100 year period, forests throughout the Sierra Nevada grew thick with trees, shrubs, and dead and down material. These dense forests had essentially become a fire hazard and had halted many of the natural processes that help keep an ecosystem thriving. Beginning in the late 1960s, fire ecologists realized this and worked to change how forests in this region of the Sierra Nevada were managed.

Beginning in 1970, Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks introduced prescribed burning as a management tool to bring about the change in an ecosystem that mimics the effects of lightning ignited wildfire. Prescribed burns are small fires that are purposely set under highly regulated conditions and managed within a planned, geographic area. Today, prescribed burning is still an essental part of how we manage sequoia groves in the park.



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Giant Sequoias and Redwoods: The Largest and Tallest Trees

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Redwood trees reach the sky in California's Big Basin Redwoods State Park. (Image credit: <a href="">Felix Lipov</a> | <a href="">Shutterstock</a>)

Giant sequoias and California redwoods (also called coast redwoods) are nature's skyscrapers. These enormous trees exist primarily in Northern California, Oregon and Washington and though they have a number of common characteristics, including distinctive cinnamon-red bark, they are different species.

Giant sequoias

Giant sequoias can grow to be about 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter and more than 250 feet (76 m) tall. The biggest of these behemoths is General Sherman, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park. General Sherman stands 275 feet (84 m) tall, has a 102-foot (31 m) circumference, and weighs an incredible 2.7 million lbs. (1.2 million kilograms). 

Giant sequoias can live to 3,000 years, with the oldest on record living more than 3,500 years. When they die, it is often indirectly because of root rot or another weakening of the base. Fire, root rot and dry spells do not typically affect the whole tree but if they destabilize the base, gravity can eventually take the tree down, according to Scientific American. This process takes a long time, as evidenced by the fact that sequoias are some of the longest living organisms on the planet.  

Mature sequoias lack branches on the lower half of their trunks. Sequoia trunks taper as they rise, forming a rounded top where individual branches sweep downward. Their green leaves are small, scale-like, and arranged in spirals. Both male and females cones are carried on the same tree. 

Sequoias grow naturally along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, between 5,000 and 7,000 feet (1,524 and 2,134 m) above sea level and far inland. That elevation provides the trees with dry mountain air necessary for their cones to open and release seeds. The snowpack from the Sierra Nevada provides sequoias with the thousands of gallons of water every day. Sequoias have shallow roots and require well-drained soil.

Because of its brittle texture, the sequoia is not a valuable lumber species. It was, nevertheless, logged extensively around the turn of the 20th century. Originally, sequoias could be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Today, they are found only in 77 scattered groves in Northern California. Among the places that preserve giant sequoias are Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Park, and Giant Sequoia National Monument.

A woman stands against a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park in California. (Image credit: Rob van Esch Shutterstock )

Droughts in California have scientists worried about sequoia health. The drought of the 2010s left many sequoias stressed from lack of water, according to Scientific American. Though sequoias usually die under their own weight, recently scientists have seen some die still standing, and others exhibiting symptoms of dehydration, including brown foliage at the top of the tree. One scientist told PBS in 2015, "The trees are definitely as stressed as we've ever seen giant sequoia."

Not all giant sequoia are suffering from the drought, however. Deborah Zierten, education and interpretation manager with the Save the Redwoods League told LiveScience that a giant sequoia's response to drought is dependent on location. "There are some parks where they have seen a decline in recent years and others where the growth seems to be the same." The differences could be attributed to fire suppression, weather, location and amount of snowmelt exposure, and density of the trees. "There could be competition in some areas," Zierten said.

Fire suppression is another threat to giant sequoias. "Giant sequoias are very dependent on fire," said Zierten. Fire helps release the seeds from their cones, recycle nutrients in the soil, reduce competition from other trees, remove undergrowth and expose bare soil in which new seedlings can take root and open holes in the forest canopy, which let in sunlight for young seedlings. 

"There's been a lot of fire suppression over the last 100 or so years," said Zierten. "Some of the parks are trying to reintroduce fire to clear out that understory and stimulate growth."

Researchers are working to understand how climate change is and will continue to affect giant sequoias. Lack of precipitation from snowmelt will probably be the biggest threat, said Zierten. Increased wildfires could also impact sequoias. 


These tallest of trees reach heights of more than 350 feet (107 m). The tallest tree in the world is named Hyperion, which reaches 379. 7 feet (115.7 m). Redwoods can achieve a diameter of 24 feet (7 m), and 1.6 million lbs. (725,700 kg). These giants can live to be 2,000 years old and have graced the planet for more than 240 million years. Though they once thrived throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, today redwoods are only found on the coast from central California through southern Oregon. They do not live more than 50 miles inland, and are usually found in long belts, rather than small groves.

True to their name, coast redwoods need a moderate, coastal climate to survive. They require the area's frequent fog to protect them from dry spells and drought. Like sequoias, redwoods require abundant water to drink and have shallow root systems. Redwoods, however, get their water from rain rather than snowmelt, and therefore require consistent rainfall throughout the year. They even "create" their own rain by trapping fog in their lofty branches. With the right amount of moisture, redwoods can grow two or three feet in a year, making them one of the fastest-growing conifers in the world.

In contrast to their size, redwoods have extremely small cones — about one inch long. They have appropriately large root systems, however, often extending 100 feet (30 meters) and intertwining with the roots of other redwoods, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Baby redwoods often sprout at their parents' base, latching onto their roots for nutrients. For this reason, they often grow in circular clusters sometimes called fairy rings.

The coast redwood's lumber has been highly valued historically. It is durable, resistant to rot and termites, non-warping, and relatively soft. For this reason, it has been extensively logged. Since logging began in the 1850s, 95 percent of old-growth coast redwoods have been cut down, according to the Sempervirens Fund. Today, many redwoods exist in protected forests and parks.

The changing climate presents problems for redwoods. A warmer climate may result in less rain, and perhaps more concerning, less fog, which has historically been the tree's defense against dry spells, according to an ongoing study by a group of University of California-based researchers. Fog in northern California and Oregon is on the decline because of climate change and the expanding human population along the coasts, which produce "urban heat islands," according to a UC Merced researcher with the study. 

On the other hand, a long-term study conducted by the Save the Redwoods League found that coastal redwoods have seen unprecedented growth over the last 100 years. They are still trying to understand why but one theory involves lessening fog in those areas. "We can't necessarily attribute the spike in growth to any one particular thing, but we know there has been a decrease in fog in the last 100 years," said Zierten. "This means sunnier days, and on sunnier days they are able to photosynthesize a lot. That could be a possibility."

Climate change

Many studies suggest that redwoods and sequoias may also play an important part in mitigating climate change, according to Zierten. The trees have the ability to pull in and store dangerous carbon, keeping it from wreaking havoc on the climate. "Ancient redwood forests store at least three times more carbon above ground than any other forests on Earth," according to a Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative study. 

Zierten emphasized that these studies have focused on ancient, or old-growth, forests. The trees there are bigger so they are able to store more carbon. "Because they are such long-lived trees, they are able to keep that carbon in their wood for a very, very long time," she said. "But it's really about the forest, not the individual trees. Even the fallen logs store carbon, as do the under-story plants." 

For this reason, Zierten recommends that conservation organizations focus on preserving and restoring the old-growth forests that we still have, rather than planting more and more trees. "With second-growth forests, one of our goals is to do restoration to make sure they become the old-growth forests of the future," she says. "A huge area of the range is second-growth. We need to take what we have and make sure the forests are healthy and continue to thrive.

Restoration efforts depend on the species and location, but some common techniques include "prescribed burning, clearing out understory, thinning, cutting down smaller trees to give big trees more room to grow and invasive plant removal," said Zierten. The Save the Redwoods League also restores creeks and removes some of the many roads that were built during logging booms and cause erosion. 

Furthermore, the iconic status of California redwoods may help maintain public interest in saving these climate-helping trees. Zierten encourages West-Coasters and visitors alike to explore redwoods and sequoias in places beyond Muir Woods and Sequoia National Park. "There are 93 parks that conserve redwood and sequoias," she said.  

Other facts

  • In 1881, in Yosemite National Park, a tunnel was built through the Wawona "Tunnel" tree. It was so big that people could drive their carriages — later their cars — right through. The 2,100-year-old tree fell in 1969 under heavy snowfall (some blame the tunnel's damage). Today, there are three other privately owned tunnel trees that charge a fee to drive through. On January 8, 2017, a massive storm brought down Pioneer Cabin Tree, a popular tunnel tree that the California Department of Parks and Recreation estimated at 100 feet tall. 
  • A fallen coast redwood will often send up new shoots, growing new trees off of its trunk. This is called a candelabra tree.
  • Redwoods and giant sequoias were used to build many of the original buildings in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento in the latter 1800s.
  • Redwoods and giant sequoias are adept at — though by no means immune to — surviving fire. Their bark contains no flammable pitch or resin and is extremely thick.

Additional resources

  • Save the Redwoods League
  • National Park Service: Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • NPS: Redwood National and State Parks

How many years do sequoias live?. countries and peoples. Questions and Answers

How many years do sequoias live?. countries and peoples. Questions and answers


countries and peoples. Questions and answers
Yu. V. Kukanova


How many years do sequoias live?

Sequoias are the tallest trees in the world. They grow up to about 500 years, and then begin to dry out. The real giants among the redwoods are mammoth trees that live on the Pacific coast of North America in the mountains of California. They reach a height of more than 100 meters, and live up to 2.5-3 thousand years!

Sequoia National Park, based in this area, is a popular tourist attraction. Every year, thousands of people come to California to see the forest giants growing here with their own eyes.

These giant trees are named after the Indian chief Sequoia, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet

This text is an introductory fragment.

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Sequoia in the USA - types, description, size and photo

Sequoia (lat. Sequoia ) is a genus of trees of the Cypress family growing on the Pacific coast of North America. We all heard about redwoods more than once, both in nature studies classes at school and on TV. But what these huge trees actually look like and where they grow, few people imagine. No less surprising is the fact that there are also different types of sequoias. We first saw these amazing giants during our independent trip by car in the United States. It turns out that the sequoia tree is also a symbol of the state of California. And in this article we will introduce you to these largest trees in the world (not to be confused with baobabs!).

  • 4 Sequoia on the US map
  • Types of sequoia

    Sequoia is an evergreen tree belonging to the cypress family. We have already seen cypresses in California when we drove along the 17 Mile Road. Three types of sequoia trees are known worldwide, two of which grow in the USA:

    • Coastal sequoia ( Sequoia sempervirens ) - grows on the coast of California in the USA;
    • Giant Sequoia ( Sequoiadendron giganteum ) - common in the Sierra Nevada region;
    • Metasequoia ( Metasequoia ) - grows in China.

    And only giant sequoia is widely known in the world under the name sequoia . Coastal is also called redwood, or redwood ( Redwood ). It is these two species that are the largest trees in the world. The coastal sequoia is the tallest tree, and the giant sequoia is the most voluminous. The Chinese metasequoia is not surprising at all with its size. Sequoia sempervirens )

    Tree redwood is found only on the Pacific Coast in Northern California and Oregon. Nowhere else in the world does this species (Evergreen Sequoia, Red Sequoia) grow. Redwood is rightfully considered the tallest tree in the world on planet Earth and reaches a height of 115 meters. About 50 currently growing redwoods have a height of more than 100 meters. The thickness of the trunk reaches 6.5 meters. There are specimens of redwood sequoia aged from 1500 to 2000 years.

    Hard but soft redwood bark

    Giant sequoia (

    Sequoiadendron giganteum )

    Nevada in California, at an altitude of 1500-2000 meters. This type of tree got its name because of its gigantic size. And even though their tallest trees don't exceed 95 meters, the thickness of the trunk can reach 12 meters. The oldest representative of the growing today has an age of about 3200 years. Currently, only about 30 groves of giant sequoias have survived.

    Giant Sequoia

    An interesting fact. According to some reports, the breeding season of the giant sequoia begins when it reaches the age of about 400 years. A mandatory concomitant factor in order for the sequoia to give offspring is high temperature. Here's what we know about wildfires and their benefits to redwoods:

    • Forest fires do not cause significant damage to mature trees;
    • Sequoia bark, which absorbs moisture from the air like a sponge, is quite resistant to fire;
    • However, the heat generated by burning the forest floor is best for opening the buds and bringing redwood seeds to the ground and germinating in soil rich in minerals after burning;
    • In addition, the forest, thinned by fire, allows sunlight to break through the dense canopy of trees and creates conditions for the growth of young redwoods.

    Watch Video about giant sequoia and their dependence on forest fires:

    Metasecia (

    Metasequoia )

    But there is another type of sequoia in the world - Metasecium glyptostostostrorated , which grows to the causes in China, but these trees are quite normal in size. This species of sequoia is on the verge of extinction and is listed in the Red Book. They are very rare, and only on the slopes of mountains in remote areas of the Chinese provinces. That is, the ordinary tourist is not available. But the American sequoias - redwood and the giant one can be seen both from the car window, and take a walk along the forest paths in a grove among majestic trees.

    Sequoia in the USA

    When we traveled around the USA by car during our World Tour - One World, we spent a lot of time getting to know the largest trees in the world. So, let's figure out where to go if you have a desire to get acquainted with coastal and giant sequoias in the USA.

    An interesting fact

    The thickness of the trunk of a giant sequoia reaches 12 meters in diameter. This is enough to fit a whole house inside it or to draw a highway!

    Redwood Coastal Sequoias

    The natural conditions in Northern California National Parks where the Sequoia grows are ideal for these giant trees. Redwood can be seen in the following US parks and conservation areas:

    • Redwood National Park ( Redwood national and state parks ) includes several state parks, which can be accessed for a fee. If you are on the highway and just going north, then you do not need to pay for it. And if you leave the highway to take a walk, then an annual subscription to national parks (Annual pass) is valid throughout the territory, except for state parks - Del Norte Coastal Redwood State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park - where you have to pay separately.
    • Muir wood National Monument near San Francisco. There is an annual pass to the national parks.
    • If you are traveling through California by car from San Francisco to the north, you can also drop by Humboldt Redwoods state park and Avenue of the giants , fee separate. There you can drive your car through a tree for $5 ( Shrine Drive-thru tree ).

    Sequoias are the tallest trees in the world

    Redwood Highway

    Highway 101 is even called Redwood Highway after its main attraction. You can just drive along the highway and admire the sequoias growing on its sides. And here redwood grows without the protection of national parks. And knowledgeable people will go not only along the 101 road, but also along the 199 highway in Oregon, which also bears the proud name redwood highway . And as it seemed to me personally, here the trees are more beautiful, and the track is prettier. And it’s even more pleasant that you are driving, and the sequoias themselves are growing around, which even becomes inconvenient that people cut a road in the rock and disturbed the tranquility of nature. So, Redwood Highway is:

    • route 101 in Northern California from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Crescent City;
    • parallel to Avenue of the Giants in the Humboldt State Park area;
    • Route 199 in Oregon.

    Map of the Humbolt Park (Avenue Giants)

    Giant sequoia

    Giant sequoia grows the US California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and to admire these trees, you can visit three national parks:

    • Giant Forest Forest (9000 Giant Forest listen)) in Sequoia National Park ( Sequoia national park ). The entire park consists of giant sequoia trees, and the famous tree General Sherman , to which a whole queue is lining up. It is the largest and heaviest tree in the world. Its height is 84 meters, the circumference of the trunk at the ground exceeds 31 meters, the volume is about 1500 m 3 , and the mass is estimated at 1900 tons!
    • General Grant Grove ( Grant grove ) in Kings Canyon National Park ( Kings canyon national park ) - this small area is located next to Sequoia Park and is easily accessible, unlike the rest of Kings Canyon.
    • Mariposa Grove ( Mariposa grove ) in Yosemite National Park ( Yosemite national park ). Here the giant sequoias are presented in all their splendor!

    Where Sequoia Grows

    Sequoia trees grow on the West Coast of the USA. And when we traveled by car through the national parks of America, we visited several parks in the state of California, where we saw coastal and giant sequoias in all their glory:

    • Redwood National Park , about which they wrote a detailed article. This is the place where coastal redwoods grow in their most natural environment;
    • The Redwood Highway was a pleasure to ride in both California and Oregon;
    • As for the giant sequoia, we visited all three places where they grow: Sequoia Park, Grant Grove in Kings Canyon and Mariposa Grove in Yosemite;
    • But we missed Humboldt Park , because in the evening they were in a hurry to come to Yurika and swept along the highway with a breeze and did not stop at the Avenue of the Giants. Nevertheless, the evening drive turned out to be very inspiring, and we took many photos from the car window. You can see them in a post about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Cape Point Reyes and the Northern California road.

    Sequoias with a tunnel in the trunk for cars and pedestrians

    In January 2017, it became known that the most famous 9 fell in California0086 sequoia with a tunnel in the trunk - Pioneer Cabin Tree. This giant sequoia in the US became famous for having a tunnel in the trunk that a car could drive through. A tree that was growing in Calaveras Big Trees State Park was downed by a violent storm, making worldwide news and sparking an unprecedented interest in sequoias.

    The original tunnel at the base of this giant sequoia was made in the late 1980s at the request of the owner of the Murphys Hotel. It was a tourist attraction, because it was incredibly interesting for people of that time to pass and even drive through the trunk, and then tell all their friends about it. So more and more people learned about this interesting place and they increasingly came to the park and stayed at the hotel.

    This tree was chosen for cutting the tunnel because it already had a huge scar from a forest fire. To be fair, the tunnel idea was not new and, as conceived by the hotel owner, this sequoia tree was supposed to compete with the already well-known Wawona Tree in Yosemite's Wawona Tree in the USA, in which the tunnel was made significantly earlier, in 1881, in order to attract as many visitors to the park as possible. And although the Vavona sequoia in the Mariposa grove stood much less (only until February 1969 years old), some older Americans still remember the car tunnel in it.

    Interesting fact: Fallen sequoia with a tunnel on January 8, 2017 was not the only one in California. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was very fashionable in the western United States to make such tunnels in giant trees in order to attract everyone's attention and develop automobile tourism. After all, through it it was possible not only to walk or ride a bicycle, but also to drive inside the sequoia by car. However, this trend caused irreparable damage to nature and was quickly stopped.

    More than a century has passed since then, and almost all the trees with car tunnels have collapsed. The Pioneer Cabin Tree was the last such tree of its kind, and now it has also fallen. However, you can still see a couple of giant sequoias with a tunnel for pedestrians on the West Coast of the United States and three coastal sequoias with car tunnels.

    California Tunnel Tree

    Giant sequoia tunnels:

    • California Tunnel Tree in Mariposa Grove (Yosemite National Park). The tunnel was made in 1895 in such a way that a horse-drawn carriage could pass through this giant sequoia. Today, the tunnel can only be walked or cycled through.
    • Dead Tunnel Tree in Tulumne Grove, also in Yosemite National Park. It was the very first growing giant sequoia to be tunneled through (earlier tunnels were already made in fallen tree trunks).

    Coastal Redwood Vehicle Tunnels: