The Coastal Redwoods in California USA

These trees are Sequoias with a difference. Due to their location they are not affected by lightning strikes and are allowed to reach their full height, up to 427 feet but do not have as large a trunk. Apart from that they are absolutely huge. As with all trees the method of growing and the transport of water up to the top is the same. However there are some differences in the way they get their water. Their location near the sea gives them the advantage of having almost continuous dense fog banks. The huge trees collect this fog in their branches and foliage, this in turn, runs down the tree and is absorbed into the ground and then is transported back up to top. This process along with rain fall provides all the water that they need. These redwoods are the tallest softwood trees in the world and the largest living thing on earth.

As it is with the Sequoias up in the mountains they too require the natural forest fires to survive. They both have cones full of seeds, germination is helped along by the Long Horned Beetle, as the cone falls to the ground these beetles burrow into the cone and partially opens them releasing the seeds, and also the Douglas Squirrel chews away the fleshy part of the cone and again releases the seed. The forest fires helps as well, they send heat up to the trees canopy and mature the cones so they start to open and drop to the ground, there they get covered by the burnt out under growth which protects them from the winter.

In time of severe drought the tree will cut off the supply of water to the top most branches, these will then crack off. It will, as the drought passes new growth will restart. Until it reaches its full height it will grow at a rate of about 9 inches per year. These giant trees don't usually die of old age; it is usually due to an earthquake or erosion of the soil around, maybe a flood. What happens is if it starts to lean over, it will get steadily worse until it falls, I may take 25 years to fall but once a lean takes place, there is no return. Most of the mature trees are over 3000 years old. There are some scientists who say that the estimate is nearer 5000 years. At the present time there are fears for their survival over the present forest fire in the National park areas, let us hope that they continue to cheat destruction as they have done for thousands of years.

Next time. The logging camps.

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