The largest living things on the planet
Giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are the largest trees to inhabit earth and among the oldest. Although not the tallest, their sheer volume makes them the largest living things on the planet. They are often called “big trees” and certainly justify this name.
Giant sequoias are found on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, United States. They grow to an average height of 45-85 m (150-280 ft) with a diameter of 5-7 m (16-23 ft). These coniferous trees may be expected to have about 11,000 cones at any given time.
The bark of the giant sequoia can be up to 60 cm (2 ft) thick, keeping the tree cool in summer and protecting it from cold, wind and snow in the winter. The bark, which has almost no combustible resins, also protects the tree from wildfires.
These gargantuan trees are the fastest growing trees in the world and can gain up to 60 cm (1-2 ft) in a year. The trees can have a weight of up to 2,000,000 kg. The oldest known giant sequoia is more than 3000 years old!
In the past, giant sequoias have been massively logged due to the resistant nature of their wood. Roughly 34% of their original range has been lost to timber extraction. Today the giant sequoia grows in only 75 scattered groves in California where it has been protected in Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.