The Largest Living Things on Earth!

Reader questions below!  Send in your responses by comment and stay tuned for the answers (from our youth participants) later this week!

 They aren’t quite the oldest or the tallest species (those records go to the Bristlecone Pine and the Coastal Redwood) but the Giant Sequoias, Sequoiadendron giganteum, still captivate everyone who passes under them.  In total volume, they are the largest living thing known to humans.

From left to right in the diagram: The Space Station, California Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Blue Whale, and the Statue of Liberty.

 On our hike with Ranger Chris, we saw three “gi-normous” examples of the majestic trees: the Fallen Monarch, the Grizzly Giant, and the California Tunnel Tree.   The group in front of the Fallen Monarch below shows how big the roots of a sequoia can be in front of the remaining root system.

Surprisingly, we passed only one large grouping of young sequoias on our hike: sequoia seeds require direct sunlight, adequate moisture, and bare soil to germinate.  So years of fire suppression to protect the sequoias actually prevented new ones from growing! The park service now conducts regular prescribed burns to encourage new generations of this species.

 Reader questions:

  1. Why didn’t the Giant Sequoias get cut down for timber when first discovered in the late 1800s?
  2. Ranger Chris told the group not only about sequoias, but about the other trees living in the area.  One of the cones below belongs to the Giant Sequoia, one to its neighbor.  Which is which? Who is its neighbor?


5 thoughts on “The Largest Living Things on Earth!

  1. “largest living thing”? Armillaria solidipes might take offense at that! Fortunately, fungi are fairly friendly and forgiving.

  2. I thought my uncle Wally was the largest living thing on earth. I’m just kidding. I don’t even have an uncle Wally. I think Peggy is right. What’s the answer?

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