There are plants which, although they grow very slowly, arrive at a time when they are so tall that to see them well you have to move away from a few meters, as is the case with palm trees and trees. But, if we want to know which is one of the greatest in the world, we must undoubtedly speak of General Shermana giant sequoia (its scientific name is Sequoiadendron giganteum) which has been growing for more than two thousand years, and of which it is hoped that it will still have a few centuries left, at least.
Although it is said to be actually the largest, it is important that you keep in mind that this record is held by Hyperion (redwood sempervirens), a redwood. But yes we can say that it is the greatest; i.e. the one with the greatest volume.
What does General Sherman’s tree look like?
Image – Wikimedia/Famartin
It is a conifer type tree that is estimated to germinated between 2300 and 2700 years ago, in what is now Sequoia National Park, California (USA). This park was established in 1890 and covers an area of approximately 1,780 square kilometers. It is the home, as its name suggests, of the sequoias, one of the tallest trees in the world, like our protagonist, which is 83.8 meters high and also has a very wide crown, 32 meters.
It is known that it is the largest in the world by the volume of its trunk, since it has been calculated that it has 1487 m3. To give you an idea, its thickness is 11 meters, so several people are needed to hug it.
What is your story ?
It is believed that General Sherman’s tree He was baptized by James Wolverton in 1879. This man served as a lieutenant during the Civil War (1861-1865) led by William Tecumeseh Sherman. Recently, in 1931, he was compared to a tree close to him, General Grant, and as a result of these studies they realized that he was (and is) the one with the greatest volume.
However, there were also times when you had to worry. And it is that in January 2006, the largest branch broke, which was about 30 meters long and over 2 meters in diameter. As he fell to the ground, he struck the perimeter fence and the surrounding promenade, causing extensive damage. Fortunately, there was no further damage.
Same branch drop is thought to be normal in these treesas a coping mechanism. This makes a lot of sense, as there are many plants, like Aloidendron (tree aloe) that are sometimes forced to stop feeding a branch to avoid dying of dehydration; And of course, over time, these branches dry out and fall off.
What the General Sherman tree does is the same, but with the difference that the climate in Aloidendron’s habitat (Namibia or South Africa) is much warmer and drier than that of redwoods in the western states. United, so there’s nothing to complain about, at least for now.
What is the life expectancy of the giant sequoia?
The giant sequoia is a conifer that grows relatively quickly, especially during its first decade of life when it can reach 15 to 20 meters in height. And it is that it must take advantage of the little light that reaches the ground to establish itself. After this time, it does so more slowly.
Even so, if a specimen is able to overcome its rivals and obtain the nutrients and water it needs, can live up to 3,200 years. Its leaves remain on the plant for a long time, until they are gradually replaced by new ones. It is therefore a plant capable of carrying out photosynthesis every day of the year, which helps it to grow and strengthen.
It is also worth saying that the bark of its trunk is fibrous and very thick, about 60 centimeters, so it serves as fire protection. But yes: it does not protect you 100%; in fact, it’s easy to find giant sequoias with a scorched, black part as a result of the fire.
And it is that, although in some habitats, as is the case in this part of California, the fires are part of the ecosystem, even helping the seeds to come out of fruit and germinate, we cannot stop talking about how global warming is increasingly changing the conditions in which plants live. For it, the higher the temperature and the less it rains, the greater the risk of fires and the more serious they will be.
Overall, the General Sherman tree and its companions can breathe easily. To protect them from fires, their trunks are wrapped in aluminum foil.as they did in September 2021 (you can read the news here).
And you, have you had the chance to see it?