This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend the world’s tallest tree, Sequoia sempervirens.

Where does it grow?

Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the coastal redwood, is found on the west coast of the United States, close to the Pacific Ocean.  A member of the cypress family, the largest remaining populations of this rare tree are located in the coastal areas of California at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Redwood National Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  This area is particularly wet and prone to fog, which are the perfect conditions to support these giants.  

Why is is cultivated?

Sequoia sempervirens has been used extensively within the construction industry since the 1850s due to its straight trunk and excellent quality wood.  However, in recognition of its endangered status, many of the remaining ‘old-growth’ forests are now protected from logging in order to preserve the species for future generations.  Conservation charities are campaigning for more sustainable forestry methods to be adopted in redwood forests that are still subject to clearcutting techniques.  

What conditions does it prefer?

The coastal redwood prefers shady, damp locations with a mild-climate, similar to that of its native habitat in the coastal regions of California.   It is sensitive to frost, intolerant to drought and doesn’t like heavy, peaty or dry soils.  

What does it look like up close?

It is difficult to get an accurate impression of a tree this tall close up.  The first thing that can be distinguished is the immense trunk, up to four metres in diameter, with soft, deeply furrowed, red-coloured bark, similar to that of the Sequiadendron giganteum.  

High up, around 60 metres from the ground, the trunk is topped with a conical-shaped crown and downward sweeping branches.  Sequoia sempervirens is an evergreen with dense foliage and it’s leaves are similar in shape and length to those of the Yew.

A fascinating feature of these trees, that has only recently been discovered, is that high up in the canopy a complex forest ecosystem made up of different plant species, lichens, insects, lizards and small mammals can be found.     

Any distinctive features?
The coastal redwoods most distinctive feature is its height.  On average this impressive specimen can grow up to 100 metres tall and has a relatively slender silhouette for its size.

The tallest specimen currently on record is fondly known as ‘Hyperion’ which stands at an eye-watering 115 metres tall.  This is 19 metres taller than Big Ben.  

The tree is aptly named after one of the Titans in Greek Mythology, Hyperion, who represented light and wisdom and was considered to be one of the four pillars that held the heavens and the earth apart.  It is thought that this iconic coastal redwood may grow even taller as it is young for a Sequoia sempervirens which can live up to 2,500-years-old.

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: “If you want to recreate a scene from Jurassic Park then this is the tree for you!  In North America, during the Cretaceous period, these spectacular redwood forests would have been found all over the region and they still retain their air of pre-historic mystery today.  

“Joking aside, this magnificent tree is a fantastic solution for broadscale screening in a large space.  Because it’s an evergreen it can provide a year round, solid wall of green.  Add a section of ornamental deciduous trees in front of the screen and you can create a wonderful backdrop filled with rich contrast and seasonal interest.   

“It’s worth bearing in mind that Sequoia sempervirens is quite sensitive to winter frost, particularly when young, but it thrives in England due to our naturally wet climate.  It’s a fast growing species, but we would still recommend planting a semi-mature specimen for instant impact on your site.”  

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.

Did you like this article?  Why not try our Tree of the Month for Februrary?