SequoiasThere are three trees that have Sequoia in their name. The Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron gigantea, is the largest tree in the world by volume. They grow naturally only in scattered groves along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California. The Coastal Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, is the tallest tree in the world. They grow naturally only along the coast of northern California and southern Oregon. The Dawn Redwood was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in the 1940's growing in central China. Its scientific name is Metasequoia glyptostroboides but it does not grow to any great size.
The biggest Giant Sequoias can be 40 feet wide at their bases and 275 feet high for a total trunk volume of up to 52,500 cubic feet. Coast Redwoods can get as tall as 365 feet. They are closely related and they are both in the redwood family, Taxodiaceae. Other trees in the family Taxodiaceae include the bald cypress and Japanese Cedar. Most of the trees in this family, including Giant Sequoias, Coast Redwoods, and Dawn Redwoods, have been planted by people worldwide as ornamental trees.
But where did the name Sequoia come from? This is our best theory... In 1847 a German botanist named Stephen Endlicher named the coastal redwood trees Sequoia sempervirens. He presumably was honoring the Cherokee Chief Sequoya or Sikwayi who invented a phonetic alphabet of 86 symbols for the Cherokee language. In 1854 a French botanist, Joseph Decaisne, applied the name to the giant sequoias, which are closely related to the coastal redwoods.
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