What are Redwood Trees?
Redwood trees (scientific name Sequoia sempervirens) are a species of tree found on the northwestern Pacific coast of the United States, specifically in northern California and Oregon. Other common names for redwood trees include California redwoods, coast redwoods, giant redwoods, and California coastal redwoods.
Redwoods are a resilient species of tree that can grow up to 350 feet tall and often live between 1,200 and 1,800 years (but sometimes longer than 2,000 years) and are highly resistant to rot and disease. This resistance to rot is due to the high tannin content of the wood, their massive size, and the acidic nature of their shallow root system, which removes competitor species from the forest floor. Mature trees can withstand high winds, drought, and even fire thanks to the redwood’s thick bark with minimal resin.
Where Do Redwood Trees Grow?
Redwood trees grow exclusively on the central and northern Pacific coast of the United States, from central California into southern Oregon. Redwoods grow in a narrow strip of space, always within 50 miles of the Pacific coast, which provides the ideal growing conditions for the California redwood species, including mild temperatures, ample fog, and plentiful rainfall.
Coastal redwoods are endemic to North America, though the species was intentionally introduced to the Whakarewarewa Forest region of New Zealand, where they have flourished. Other redwood groves exist in Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, among other countries.
How Do Redwood Trees Affect the Climate?
The California coastal redwoods are a critical part of the ecosystem as their dense canopies serve as a habitat for many birds. Coastal redwoods also absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide out of the Earth’s atmosphere, as much as 250 times more carbon than most other trees. This is partially due to their immense size and partially due to the fact that a single redwood will spawn multiple clone trees before it dies.
Redwoods grow very slowly, but the species regenerates itself readily. A downed tree often serves as a host for new redwood saplings. Rebuilding the redwood’s habitat requires protecting older trees, which can serve as hosts for future generations.