There are plants that, although they grow very slowly, there comes a time when they are so tall that to be able to see them well you have to move a few meters away, as happens with palm trees and trees. But, if we want to know which is one of the tallest in the world, without a doubt we have to talk about General Sherman, a giant sequoia (its scientific name is Sequoiadendron giganteum) that has been growing for more than two thousand years, and that we hope will still have a few more centuries left, at least.
Although it is said that it is actually the tallest, it is important that you keep in mind that this record is held by Hyperion (sequoia sempervirens), a redwood. But yeah we can say that it is the greatest; that is, the one with the greatest volume.
Table of Contents
What is the General Sherman tree like?
It is a coniferous type tree that is estimated to germinated between 2300 and 2700 years ago, in what is now Sequoia National Park, in California (United States). This park was created in 1890 and covers an area of about 1780 square kilometers. It is the home, as its name suggests, of the sequoias, one of the largest trees in the world, like our protagonist, which is 83 meters tall and also has a very wide crown, 8 meters.
It is known that it is the largest in the world by the volume of its trunk, since it has been calculated that it has 1487 m3. To give you an idea, its thickness is 11 meters, so several people are needed to hug it.
What is its history?
The General Sherman tree is believed to He was baptized by James Wolverton in the year 1879. This man served as a lieutenant in the Civil War (1861-1865) led by William Tecumeseh Sherman. In recent times, in the year 1931, it was being compared to a tree that is close to it, General Grant, and as a result of these studies they realized that it was (and is) the one with the greatest volume.
However, there were also times to worry. And it is that in January 2006 the largest branch broke, which measured about 30 meters long and a diameter of more than 2 meters. As it fell to the ground, it hit the perimeter fence and the surrounding promenade, causing significant damage. Luckily, there was no further damage.
Even it is believed that the fall of branches is something normal in these treesas an adaptation mechanism. This makes a lot of sense, since there are many plants, such as Aloidendron (tree aloes) that are sometimes forced to stop feeding a branch to avoid dying of dehydration; And of course, over time these branches dry up and fall.
What the General Sherman tree does is the same, but with the difference that the climate in the Aloidendron habitat (Namibia or South Africa) is much hotter and drier than that of the sequoias in the western United States. United States, so there is nothing to complain about, at least for now.
What is the life expectancy of the giant sequoia?
La giant sequoia It is a conifer that grows relatively fast, especially during its first decade of life when it can reach 15-20 meters in height. And it is that it has to make the most of the little light that reaches the ground to establish itself. After that time, it does so more slowly.
Even so, if a specimen is able to overcome its rivals and obtain the nutrients and water it needs, can live up to 3200 years. Its leaves remain on the plant for a long time, until they are gradually replaced by new ones. Therefore, it is a plant with the ability to carry out photosynthesis every day of the year, something that helps it grow and become stronger.
It is also interesting to say that the bark of its trunk is fibrous and very thick, about 60 centimeters, so it serves as protection against fires. But yes: it does not protect you 100%; in fact, it is easy to find giant sequoias with some part burned and black as a result of the fire.
And it is that, although in some habitats, as is the case in this part of California, fires are part of the ecosystem, even helping the seeds to come out of the fruits and germinate, we cannot stop talking about how global warming is increasingly changing the conditions in which plants live. So, the more the temperature rises and the less it rains, the greater the risk of fires and the more serious they will be.
All in all, the General Sherman tree and his companions can breathe easy. To protect them from fires, their trunks are wrapped in aluminum foil., as they did in September 2021 (you can read the news here!).
And you, have you had a chance to see it?