What is the Difference Between Giant Sequoias and Coast Redwoods?

February 14, 2024

When you hear the name “redwood,” it’s hard not to imagine a tree towering in the sky. But what you might not know is that there are two species of “redwood” trees: giant sequoias and coast redwoods. While they share certain characteristics such as distinctive cinnamon-colored bark and their proclivity to grow to overwhelming heights, they are separate and distinct species.

Giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are native to the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They thrive at this altitude because they receive more precipitation than their coastal relatives and can use the water to sustain their growth. Giant sequoias are also more tolerant of fire. Their thick, spongy bark insulates them from damage and their tall branches allow them to escape most fires. In fact, they often benefit from fires – the heat from the flames causes their cones to open and seeds to fly out of them, creating new plants in the fire’s path.

In contrast, coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) live in the more temperate forests of Northern California and require less precipitation to grow. They are also able to survive logging because they are too brittle for construction uses and because the wood they produce is less valuable than that of their sequoia cousins. They have the added bonus of being able to regenerate quickly after logging.

Both species are protected in our parks and national forests. We have a wealth of opportunities for you to see and experience these wonders. Whether you are looking for a seaside stroll amongst the ancient giants of Redwood National Park or want to explore the awe-inspiring tall and deep forests of Sequoia National Park, we are here to help you find your way to this natural treasure.


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