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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | FIELD GUIDE

Redwood

March 02, 2004|David Lukas

[SEQUOIA SEMPERVIRENS]

Only a few drops in the shower of tiny seeds raining onto the forest floor this winter will germinate and grow into one of Earth's most massive organisms. Of the 10 million seeds produced every year by each redwood, only a handful survive to full adulthood. But once they make it through an incredibly harsh screening process, they are guaranteed a very long life. Able to resist both fires and insect plagues, the mighty redwood fends off threats, except perhaps chain saws and giant storms, that fell lesser trees. In winter, the canopy of redwoods turns orangish with cones the size of peppercorns. Male cones release streams of pollen, and female cones take a year to reach the size of an olive before scattering seeds to the wind.

NATURAL HISTORY

Living relics from ancient times, redwoods thrive in the mild, wet climate of Northern California's narrow coastal band. The trees trap water droplets from the persistent fog to stay hydrated through the summer.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

At up to 360 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter, these immense trees weigh more than a million pounds -- not counting their vast root systems.

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