BRUNS plant of the month – March

Sequoiadendron giganteum – giant sequoia


THE tree among trees

The biggest tree in the world is a giant sequoia. It stands in California in the Sequoia National Park and is 83 m high. While there are trees that grow even taller, this tree has the greatest trunk volume with a trunk circumference of more than 30 m. It is estimated to be around 2500 years old. The giant sequoia is native to North America. Its natural range is along the western cliffs of the Sierra Nevada at altitudes ranging from 1500 m to 2500 m. This tree can reach an age of up to 4000 years.

The bark of the giant sequoia is also really interesting. It glows in bright reddish-brown and comes off in long strips. The old bark of the older specimen (i.e. the outer layer which is dead) is often 30 to 60 cm thick and serves as effective protection against the frequent wildfires which often last several days. Once the fires have settled, these trees are usually able to sprout again from their protected trunks.

In contrast to the related dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), which loses its needles in autumn, the giant sequoia is evergreen. The needles are blue-green in colour and lie closely around the branches. Needles of the cultivar Sequoiadendron giganteum ꞌGlaucumꞌ are bright grey-blue. Giant sequoias grow rigidly upright with a straight continuous trunk all the way to the top. Younger trees have a broad tapering trunk which later becomes pillar-shaped with hanging branches.

The giant sequoia thrives in all regular garden soils and prefers a sunny position protected from cold winds. The young plant is slightly sensitive to frost; once established, it is reliably hardy. Planted as a solitary tree or in groups, this impressive large tree will be the centre of attention in spacious gardens or parks. In the latter, it is often used to create a long-lasting avenue of trees. Given that the giant sequoia can reach a height of 50 m in Germany, its space requirements should be taken into account during planning. It grows at a rate of approximately 50 cm per year.