December 23, 2007

Giant Sequoias: More than you ever wanted to know*

On the first day in the Sierras, we drove down to the "Grove of the Giants" in Sequoia National Forest; we collected tidbits we've been inflicting on people since our return:

Sequoias have chemicals in their bark that have made them immune to dying of old age. They aren't succeptible to fungus or bacteria. The only thing that really kills them is fire, or being blown over (usually due to fire damage). Even then, the wood doesn't rot.
Their pine cone seeds are only released through heat; sequoia stumps show fire scars every 13 years or so for the past 2,500 years.
We'd read in the book that we were going to see the largest tree by volume in the world. Honestly, from a distance, it's underwhelming. Redwoods grow tall, Sequoias grow stumpy. At some point, it looks like someone hacked off the top of the tree. They look like a big club with random green stuff clumped at the top. But when you get close, they are definitely huge!
This tree was used as a cabin and saloon in the 1800's.

I took a wonderful shot of Jrex facing the camera while looking up at this 'skylight'. In yet another example of why I love him, he then said, "Do you want me to turn around so you can put this on the blog?"
Aside from signs that said, "Take photo of General Grant Tree here", the other thing that annoyed me was that almost every tree had a masculine name. "The Chief", "The President", "General Lee". Two groves were called "The Senate" and "The House". When I look up at a big, old tree, brooding over the forest and sacrificing itself for the sake of it's seeds, it seems matriarchal. Ah well, I guess that's what we get when a bunch of crazy bachelors are the ones who arrive somewhere first and throw labels on grandeur.

*In true geek fashion, I love random factoids.


Rachel said...

Thanks for the facts. I had no idea.

I love those trees. They are truly awesome, in the original sense of the word.

Anonymous said...

Exciting info.

Is the bark chemical being extracted as an elixir of life?

In the summer, you're planning to return for King's Canyon.

You can be intentional about this. Your highly personal experiences of using
Kings / Sequoia as the low price / available Yosemite can be a good article for California magazine.

Mama Nabi said...

I love random trivia as well - does that make me a geek? Wow... do you suppose scientists can figure out human longevity from studying this immortal trees? That is truly amazing for a living organism to be so immune to almost everything!
I *heart* the fact that JRex posed so that you could post a picture.