There is something truly magical about forests. Whether the leaves are exploding in a riot of fall colors, or the sun dapples the ground with the light tinted green by fresh spring growth, the woods are always an exquisitely beautiful place. Fine art photography is one of the best ways to capture the beauty of nature; the art of nature photography can capture those magical moments in the forest and bring them into your home.
One of the most incredible types of forests are the redwood forests of the United States’ west coast. There are two species of giant redwood tree that grow in the cloud forests on the west coast, as well as a smaller species native to China. The American species can be found from southern Oregon to central California, wherever the coastal climate influences the growing environment.
What Are Redwoods?
Redwoods are a type of conifer, or evergreen tree, that is known for incredible growth. Redwoods are not only the tallest trees in the world but also the largest by volume. The trunks of giant redwoods can be 30 feet in diameter. The current height record holder, a coastal redwood tree called Hyperion, is 380 feet and 9 inches tall. However, the average height is 164–279 feet, which is still vastly taller than most other trees.
To anchor their massive trunks, redwoods have an enormous root system. The roots are relatively shallow but can expand over 100 feet from the tree. Redwood trees have incredibly thick bark, sometimes up to 3 feet thick, and produce thousands of small cones each year. These trees tend to grow in groves and are rarely found growing alone.
Redwoods vs Sequoias: What is the Difference?
Both coast redwoods and giant sequoias are redwood trees. They have several similarities, including growing conditions, but there are numerous differences between the two.
- Also known as California redwoods, coastal redwoods, or simply referred to as redwoods
- Found in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California
- Needle-like leaves (similar to hemlock trees)
- Narrower trunks
- Also called giant redwood, Sierra redwood, Sierran redwood, California big tree, Wellingtonia, or just “big tree”
- Found only in the Sierra Madre mountains of California
- Scaled leaves (similar to junipers)
- Massive trunks
Where To See Redwoods
Redwoods require very specific growing conditions. They need constant moisture, summer fog, mild winters, and damp, cool air year-round to grow. These trees are also heavily adapted to forest fires. Their bark is fire resistant and their cones open immediately after exposure to fire.
Because redwoods are so reliant on constant moisture and summer fog, their growing conditions can be hard to replicate. Nowhere else in the United States is there enough constant moisture and overall cool temperatures for redwoods to grow. Redwood forests are also called cloud forests, a term for a type of forest with high moisture, high elevation, and persistent fog at the vegetation level.
If you would like to see these trees for yourself, there are several state and national parks with redwood tree viewing.
Places to See Coast Redwoods
- Redwood National Park and Redwood State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Muir Woods National Monument
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Places to See Giant Sequoias
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
- Yosemite National Park
- Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest
- Sierra National Forest
- Calaveras Big Trees State Park
These trees have also been transplanted to locations outside of their modern range, including other areas on the west coast and the east coast of the US, and areas abroad like China, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to the tallest trees in the world. If you’d like to see more of these amazing botanical specimens, check out Max Foster’s Redwoods Gallery.