Tall Trees are Cool

Coastal RedwodsI am aware that the last thing the web needs is another angry white man with a blog, and so I apologize if my remarks yesterday came across as too abrasive or too aggressive. That anger towards the actions of the ARC really go counter to the reason I think our national parks are so cool and worthy of a (mostly) daily blog. And so, to wipe the sour taste from my palate, I share with you today a story that I think is pretty cool and falls under the category "only in the parks"

The title in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle says it all: "Eureka! New tallest living thing discovered; THE CHAMPION: At 378.1 feet, Hyperion in Redwood National Park on North Coast towers 8 feet above Stratosphere Giant"

The article describes some tree hunters who have been bushwhacking through the woods of California searching for tall trees. This summer, they found the tallest living tree on earth in Redwood National Park. The tree they found will be measured with a more precise laser system, and then the details of its size will be sent off to the Guinness folks who maintain their Book of World Records.

The west coast, between Northern California and Southern Alaska is prime growing conditions for these old tree species. It is not uncommon to find 300+ foot trees in this temperate climate close to the ocean. In this range, Redwoods grow incredibly well to the south, Douglas Fir flourish in the middle, and Sitka Spruce shoot up in the north. A big reason for the growing success of these trees is the frequent presence of fog, even in the summer, which collects on the needles of the trees, condenses, then falls to earth like rain feeding the roots.

In the article, Chris Atkins who helped find the trees, describes the growing environment for the record tall tree: "Even though they're on steep slopes, they're growing in the finest redwood habitat on the planet. They're right below a ridge, so they're protected from the wind. They're near abundant water, and they have plenty of fog, which keeps the local microclimate mild and moist. And they have great sun exposure."

This is the type of discovery that can be made in an area like the National Parks because of the conservation policy under which the parks operate. George Koch, a biology professor from Northern Arizona, says in the article "With so much of the old-growth redwoods gone -- more than 90 percent -- you wouldn't necessarily expect a discovery like this. They aren't all that far from an old clear-cut. Basically, they were almost nuked. The fact that they weren't is amazing."

Be sure to check out the graphic included with the article which shows the relative height of this particular tree.

Other fun tree facts included at the end of the article (which had been pulled from the Guinness Book of World Records):
  • Tallest living tree: Hyperion (coast redwood), 378.1 feet, Redwood National Park
  • Tallest recorded tree: Unnamed eucalyptus, 500-plus feet, recorded in 1872 in Australia
  • Most massive living tree: General Sherman (giant sequoia), estimated weight 4 million pounds, Sequoia National Park
  • Largest tree canopy: A great banyan in Calcutta's Indian Botanical Garden covers three acres.
  • Oldest living tree: Methuselah (Bristlecone pine), estimated 4,650 years old, California's White Mountains


I have a large tree in my pants