North America’s northwestern coast seems to be a whole treasure trove when it comes to trees as most of the world’s tallest (and oldest) can be found here. We’ve focused on the world’s tallest, measured from top to bottom, rather than the stoutest trees, measured by girth. Lord of the Rings fans who love the Ents will enjoy this post!
6. Giant Sequoia - 94.8 m (311 ft)
Our first candidate is a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). These trees are also called Sierra redwoods or Wellingtonians and reach average heights of 50–85 m (165–280 ft). The oldest known Giant Sequoia is 3,500 years old and the tallest one grows at Redwood Mountain Grove in California’s King’s Canyon National Park.
A Giant Sequoia in California’s Mariposa Big Trees Park:
Giant sequoias regenerate through seeds and a large tree can be expected to have thousands of seeds at any given point in time – around 11,000 cones. Their natural distribution is limited to the western Sierra Nevada and their conservation status has been determined as vulnerable.
5. The Carmanah Giant and other Sitka Spruces - 96 m (315 ft)
The Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) is the third tallest conifer species in the world (after the Coast Redwood and Coast Douglas-fir), growing 50–70 m (165–231 ft) tall and occasionally up to 100 m tall. It is a native of North America’s west coast and can be found as far up north as Alaska’s Kodiak Island – its name pointing to these roots from the community of Sitka in Alaska.
A dead Sitka Spruce on Lake Quinault, still standing:
The tallest specimens are the Carmanah Giant at 96 m (315 ft) in Canada’s Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and two unnamed trees in California’s Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park that at 96.7 m (317.3 ft) are just a bit over 96 m tall.
The Carmanah Giant is Canada’s tallest tree:
4. Doerner Fir – 99.4 m (326.1 ft)
Our next tall candidate is just 20 cm (0.7 ft) shorter than No. 3. It is a Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) that can be found in Brummit Creek, Coos County, Oregon. This evergreen conifer is a native of the coastal stretch from west-central British Columbia to central California. Coast Douglas-firs reach maximum heights ranging from 100 m (330 ft) to 120 m (390 ft) and average ages of between 500 and occasionally 1,000 years. If Douglas Firs seem strangely familiar to you, then it may be because they became popular through the 1990’s TV-series Twin Peaks and later the X-Files.
Coast Douglas-firs at Anacortes Community Forest Lands, Washington:
3. Centurion Mountain Ash - 99.6 m (326.8 ft)
This Mountain Ash, also called Victorian Ash, Swamp or Stringy Gum, or Tasmanian Oak belongs to the Eucalyptus species (Eucalyptus regnans) native to southeastern Australia and Tasmania. With specimens reaching heights of over 90 m, this is one of the world’s tallest tree species. This particular tree named Centurion measures 99.6 m (326.8 ft) and grows south of Hobart in Tasmania. The tallest Eucalyptus specimens encountered by early European settlers in Tasmania have either been felled, fallen victim to bushfires or simply died of advanced age – their average life span being 400 years.
Tasmania’s El Grande, a 280-ft tall Eucalyptus regnans, was accidentally killed in 2002:
A Mountain Ash in Sherbrooke Forest, Victoria, Australia:
2. Stratosphere Giant – 112.83 m (370.5 ft)
This Coast Redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park was at 112.83 m (370.5 ft) the world’s tallest until the discovery of No. 1. Though it is still growing, two trees in the same forest have been discovered since that are taller than the Stratosphere Giant. However, little is know about them and like the Stratosphere Giant and No. 1, their exact locations have not been disclosed for fear of damage through tourism.
Sequoia sempervirens reaching for the sky:
Vertigo-inducing redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument:
Coast Redwoods are native to a narrow strip of land only 750 km (470 miles) in length along the coast of California and southwestern Oregon. Sequoias belong to the subfamily of Sequoioideau in the cypress family of Cupressaceae and their conservation status is classified as vulnerable. They get their common name from the fact that their thick bark takes on a bright reddish brown colour when freshly exposed that becomes darker with weathering.
Tall giants at California’s Redwood National Park:
Beautiful redwood, also at Muir Woods:
1. Hyperion Coast Redwood - 115.56 m (379.1 ft)
Finally, the world’s tallest tree: On September 8, 2006, this Sequoia or California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) was discovered in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, a remote California forest. At 115.56 m (379.1 ft) and nine feet taller than its neighbour, the Stratosphere Giant, it was determined to be the world’s tallest tree. Hyperion is not only the world’s tallest tree but also the world’s tallest living thing. And it might also be one of the world’s oldest, given that redwoods live for up to 2,200 years – that’s older than our modern calculation of time.
Don’t miss this video of tree doctor Jim Spickler climbing the world's tallest tree:
Here’s a mind-boggling fact to close this post with: Did you know that fires do not kill sequoias but simply remove competing thin-barked species, therefore actually aiding sequoia regeneration? That’s one hell of a cool tree, literally!
Try burning that, sucker: