February 12, 2002
The photo above shows the Dyerville Giant in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park of northern California. A now fallen giant that was once a mighty 370 feet high Coast Redwood, it's longer than a football field including both end zones. Since the Paleozoic Era, over 160 million years ago, changes in climate have restricted the natural range and eliminated all but three genera of redwood; the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), native to a remote area of central China, the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), native to the western slope of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), native to the Pacific Coast from southern Oregon to central California. Humboldt Redwoods State Park has one of the largest remaining tracts of contiguous uncut coast redwood forest in the world. Coast redwoods grow best in areas of heavy winter rains and moderate year-round temperatures, at elevations less than 2,000 feet (645 m).
They're the world’s tallest living things, and many are 600 to 1200 years old - some have lived more than 2,000 years! The multi-layered redwood canopy efficiently traps moisture from fog so that even during the dry season the massive trunk of an ancient redwood may contain thousands of gallons of water. This reserve of moisture and a thick, protective bark enable redwoods to survive wildfires. Perhaps the greatest accumulation of biomass (living and dead organic material) ever recorded on earth is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where an acre of stem mass (redwood tree trunks) alone has been estimated at 1,541 tons. When branch, leaf and root mass are added, the estimate increases to 1,800 tons per acre – approximately seven times the average biomass per acre of tropical rainforest!