Big Basin Redwoods State Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the world, the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. These giant evergreens live up to 2000 years, and grow to more than 300 feet in height and 60-70 feet in circumference.
Photos just don’t capture the immensity of their size, unless compared with something more familiar (like a person).
Big Basin state park preserves 18,000 of the once 2 million acres that covered the western slopes of the outer coast range of northern California and southwestern Oregon. The trees only grow here because of the reliable moisture provided by coastal fog, and their great height creates a cool micro environment in which younger trees can become established.
The campaign to save the redwoods begun in the late 1880s launched redwoods state park as the first in California, and was instrumental in protecting these trees from the lumber industry boom following the building spree during the California gold rush.
The tallest redwood today measures 379.3 feet, but even taller giants were cut down in the 1800s; one was recorded at 424 feet in 1886. Is there a limit to how tall trees can get, you might wonder? As David Attenborough has pointed out in his series on the Private Life of Plants, plants must get water and nutrients to the tips of their branches, in complete silence, without the aid of mechanical pumps–relying only on the cohesive properties of water to rise in a capillary tube (the tree’s vascular network) aided by evaporation of that water from its leaves.
For a truly impressive look at the entire length of a living tree, click on the video below to take a tour of one of the world’s tallest trees.