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sequoia

sequoia (sĬkwoi´ə), name for the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and for the big tree, or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), both huge, coniferous evergreen trees of the bald cypress family, and for extinct related species. Sequoias probably originated over 100 million years ago. Once widespread in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the trees were almost exterminated by the ice sheets of the glacial ages. Several species are known only by fossil remains; some such fossils have been found in the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

The two living species survive only in a narrow strip near the Pacific coast of the United States. The redwood occurs along the coast of California and S Oregon, often in easily lumbered, pure stands. Growing 100 to 385 ft (30–117 m) high, it is probably the tallest tree in the world; the tallest known tree is the redwood Hyperion (379.1 ft/115.5 m), in Redwood National Park. The redwood is able to obtain the abundant moisture needed to sustain its towering growth by capturing water from regularly occurring ocean fogs. The water then drips down from the leaves and branches to the soil, where it penetrates to be absorbed by the roots. The redwood's trunk is 20 to 25 ft (6.1–7.6 m) in diameter, and its needlelike leaves are usually bluish green. Some redwoods are believed to be over 2,000 years old. The big tree, 150 to 325 ft (46–99 m) tall and with a trunk 10 to 30 ft (3–9.1 m) in diameter, grows on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California. It reaches an even greater age than the redwood; some individuals are believed to be 3,000 to 4,000 years old. The leaves are small, overlapping scales. Both trees have deeply grooved, reddish bark and soft, straight-grained, reddish heartwood whose resistance to decay makes it especially valuable for outdoor building purposes, e.g., for shingles, siding, and flumes. Although the sequoias are protected in Kings Canyon, Redwood, Sequoia, and Yosemite national parks, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and several California state parks, their existence elsewhere is threatened by exploitation.

China's deciduous dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia) is believed to be a related species and is perhaps an ancestor of the California redwood. This genus was named and described from fossil remains a few years before the few living specimens were discovered during World War II. Some thousand trees were subsequently found, and they were on the verge of extinction by lumbering. The fast-growing dawn redwoods are now propagated elsewhere. The East Indian and South American redwoods are in the unrelated brazilwood genus.

The sequoia is classified in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida, order Coniferales, family Taxodiaceae.

See N. Taylor, The Ageless Relicts (1963); R. Silverberg, Vanishing Giants (1969).

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Sequoia

SEQUOIA

SEQUOIA, a genus of coniferous trees, comprising the species Sequoia sempervirens (the redwood) and Sequoia-dendron giganteum (the giant sequoia), thought to be named for Sequoyah, the Cherokee Indian blacksmith and silversmith who invented the Cherokee alphabet about 1809. Both species average 275 feet in height, with trunks from 15 to 35 feet in diameter. Sequoias are the largest of all American forest trees, with the tallest redwoods attaining heights of more than 350 feet and the giant sequoia generally containing the largest total volume of wood. The redwood is found in the Pacific Coast region, from California to Oregon; the giant sequoia grows wild only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California, generally between five thousand and seven thousand feet in elevation, where it finds a mix of mild temperatures and adequate rainfall. Sequoia wood is soft, light, and of a reddish color that darkens on exposure. Once believed to be the world's oldest living things—some are more than three thousand years old—sequoias have very thick bark that makes them highly resistant to insects, fire, and fungi. They have a very shallow root system, however, and rely on a straight trunk and well-balanced limbs to stay upright; most fall to their death.

Sequoias probably first became known to the white man in 1833, when Captain Joseph Walker's expedition sighted them. A. T. Dowd is credited with discovering the Calaveras grove in 1852. In less than a decade, loggers began extensive cutting of the sequoia, and cutting continued into the twentieth century, although on a lesser scale. The Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada was established on 25 September 1890 to protect the groves of giant sequoia. The General Sherman tree in the park is 272 feet high and one of the oldest living things in the world; another famous tree had a hole bored through its trunk, allowing automobiles to drive through.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dilsaver, Lary M. Challenge of the Big Trees. Three Rivers, Calif.: Sequoia Natural History Association, 1990.

Orsi, Richard J., Alfred Runte, and Marlene Smith-Baranzini, eds. Yosemite and Sequoia: A Century of California National Parks. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

JohnFrancisJr./c. w.

See alsoLumber Industry ; National Park System .

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Sequoia

Sequoia

Sequoia is a genus of conifer containing one species, Sequoia sempervirens, the coast redwood. It is named for a Georgian Indian chieftain who invented the Cherokee alphabet. Traditionally included in the Taxodiaceae, current workers combine this family with the cypress family, Cupressaceae. One of the world's tallest tree species, sequoias can exceed 115 meters (360 feet) in height. The trunk, covered in red, shredding bark, is about 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) in diameter, but may reach 10 meters (33 feet). The branches bear both triangular and needlelike leaves. Male (pollen-producing) and female (seed-bearing) cones are borne on the same tree, but on different branches. Sequoiadendron giganteum, the giant redwood, formerly included in Sequoia, was placed in its own genus in 1939.

Coast redwoods form coniferous forests in western North America, from coastal central California to southernmost Oregon. Here they receive fog that provides moisture and cool conditions during the dry summer months. Coast redwoods are relics, plants that had wider distribution in the milder, moister climate of the past. Adult trees can live 2,200 years, and their thick bark resists most fires, which clear the undergrowth and create the open conditions needed for seedling establishment.

Redwood lumber is greatly desired, as it is rot resistant and straight grained. Therefore, redwood trees have been logged heavily during the last 150 years. Trees readily resprout from roots and stumps, so forests grow back quickly. Nevertheless, concern for the disappearance of virgin groves prompted the creation of Muir Woods National Monument in 1908. Less than five percent of the ancient redwood forests are intact, and most of those survive only through the protection of parks and National Forests.

see also Coniferous Forests; Conifers; Gymnosperms; Record-holding Plants; Trees.

Dean G. Kelch

Bibliography

Lanner, Ronald M. Conifers of California. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press, 1999.

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Sequoia

Sequoia (family Taxodiaceae) A monotypic genus of evergreen conifers, S. sempervirens (coast redwood) of the N. American coastal fog belt from Oregon to California. Sequoia is a giant, columnar tree, probably the tallest in the world. The bark is soft and spongy, and it yields valuable timber. The leaves are spreading and yew-like.

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sequoia

sequoia Two species of giant evergreen conifer trees native to California and s Oregon: the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and the Californian redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Their height, up to 100m (330ft), has made them a natural wonder of the USA. Family Taxodiaceae.

http://www.sequoia.national-park.com

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sequoia

sequoia (tree of a) genus of large American conifers. XIX. — modL., f. Sequoiah, name of a Cherokee Indian who invented a syllabary for his native language.

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sequoia

se·quoi·a / səˈk(w)oi-ə/ • n. a redwood tree, esp. the California redwood.

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sequoia

sequoiaannoyer, Boyer, destroyer, employer, enjoyer, Goya, hoya, lawyer, Nagoya, paranoia, sequoia, soya

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