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Come and Coast by the Redwoods

This article was first published on 23 Aug 2011.


These soaring sentinels of the forest have the distinction of being the tallest trees on earth.

In their native Southern Oregon and Northern California, the coast redwood or Sequoia sempervirens grow in excess of 100 m. They occupy a narrow coastal strip of land approximately 750 km long by 8 – 75 km wide. The majority of this area has a microclimate and is draped in a heavy mist for the most of the time. These amazing trees are dependent upon it for the majority of their moisture requirements.

I encountered some of these trees in all their majesty, a number of years ago, when I visited Redwood State Park in northern California. I was in awe of these massive trees, towering above all other living creatures, including myself. They dominated the landscape and even the road followed the gaps between these giants.

Redwoods have spongy orangey brown coloured bark which lacks resin and helps to protect the tree from fire. The evergreen leaves are flat, scaly and silvery beneath, accompanied by small oval cones which mature in late autumn.

These beauties, if left to their own devices occasionally have the habit of layering of some of the lower branches, with new shoots being sent skywards to meet their parent.

There are many fine specimens around Dunedin Botanic Garden, including several in the Arboretum and one between the Bandstand and the play area. So come to the Garden and enjoy these giants.

Gordon Graham is curator of the Rose Garden and Herbaceous Borders at Dunedin Botanic Garden.