In terms of height, Sequoia sempervirens, the Coast Redwood, is the world’s tallest tree. But in terms of mass and volume, the biggest tree is the Coast Redwood’s relative Sequoiadendron giganteum, the Giant Sequoia. On average, these trees can grow to a height of 160 to 279 feet (50 to 85 meters) and a diameter of 20 to 26 feet (6 to 8 meters).
There have been certain Giant Sequoia specimens that have reached a record height of 311 feet (94.8 meters) and a diameter of 56 feet (17 meters). Aside from its size, the Giant Sequoia also boasts of its great age, with the oldest of these trees recorded at 3,500 years old. The rutted and fibrous bark of the Sequoia has a thickness of 3.0 feet (90 centimeters) at its columnar trunk’s base, providing the tree with considerable protection from fire. The awl-shaped evergreen leaves, arranged on shoots in a spiral manner, measure 3 to 6 millimeters in length.
The Giant Sequoia’s seed cones measure a length of 4 to 7 centimeters and take 18 to 20 months to mature, although they usually remain closed for as long as 20 years. There are 30 to 50 spiral scales on each seed cone, each scale bearing numerous seeds. A single seed cone would then be made up of approximately 230 seeds. The dark-brown seeds each measure 4 to 5 millimeters long and 1 millimeter wide, with a yellow-brown ring measuring 1 millimeter in width running down each side. At a given moment, a large Sequoia is estimated to have around 11,000 seed cones, and a mature Sequoia is projected to disperse roughly 300,000 to 400,000 seeds each year.
Currently, the biggest specimen of Giant Sequoia, and consequently the biggest individual tree in the world, is the tree dubbed as General Sherman. Appropriately enough, it can be found in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest, located in southern Sierra Nevada, which is east of Visalia, California in the United States. Thought to be somewhere between 2,300 to 2,700 years of age, it was named in 1879 by naturalist James Wolverton after William Tecumseh Sherman, a general during the American Civil War.
The Giant Sequoia General Sherman measures a height of 275 feet (83.8 meters) and a trunk volume around 52,513 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters). Its circumference at ground is 102.6 feet (31.3 meters) and its maximum diameter at base is 36.5 feet (11.1 meters). Its largest branch has a diameter of 6.8 feet (2.1 meters), the height of its first large branch above its base is 130.0 feet (39.6 meters), and its average crown spread is 106.5 feet (32.5 meters).