7 Things That Fascinate Me About Redwood Trees

By Amy Shmania

You might already know that redwood trees are the tallest organisms in the world, but have you heard that salamanders live in the canopy hundreds of feet off the ground?  Read more to learn some of my favorite facts about redwoods.

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  1. Where do those salamanders live? Scientists have discovered soil up to a meter thick in the redwood canopy, along with abundant lichens, mosses, ferns, huckleberry bushes, and even small trees!

  2. Rings of redwoods, known as fairy rings or family circles, are likely all clones of the exact same tree. While redwood trees can grow from a seed (smaller than a sunflower seed!), new trees often grow from sprouts at the base of a parent tree.

  3. Yes, they’re the tallest species on earth, but what does 200-350 feet tall look like?  Picture a 20-35 story building to get a sense of their height.  (Jason Chin’s book Redwoods shows some great images of this comparison.)

  4. Some of the oldest living redwood trees have been alive for over 2,000 years.  That’s dating back to the beginning of the Roman Empire in Europe!  At that time in Sonoma county, Native Americans including the Wappo, Pomo, and Coast Miwok people had been living here for thousands of years.

  5. Instead of growing a deep taproot, redwood trees spread their shallow roots out over 100 feet and connect with the roots of other trees, forming an interwoven root mass beneath the forest floor.

  6. Redwoods “drink” fog that rolls in off the ocean, as well as the nutrients the fog carries.  The trees capture the water with their needles, absorbing some through their leaves and causing the rest to precipitate to the forest floor.  Fog makes up about 40% of their moisture intake!  The rest comes from the more than 100 inches of rain that falls in the region where they grow. 

  7. Conservation is important! Activists and environmentalists have been integral in the fight to protect old growth redwood forests, much of which is conserved in the state and national park systems. Still, only about 4% of old growth redwood forest remains, due to logging and clear-cutting that began in the mid-nineteenth century. What is something you can help protect?