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The Tallest Trees on Earth

Trees are among the most essential plants on the planets and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A non-taxonomic species, trees are often categorized as any plant with an elongated trunk and secondary growth, or plants that can be harvested for lumber. In some cases, plants independently form a “trunk” as a means of survival; successfully beating out nearby plants for sunlight and other resources. Trees play a significant role in moderating our climate; by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing large quantities of carbon in their tissue. Their root systems help control erosion and their branches provide shelter and shade for a plethora of life-forms (including us). We make paper, homes, and everything in between from trees; without them our world would be vastly different or possibly even non-existent.

In our last blog post we discussed the oldest trees, Bristlecone Pines, which live for thousands of years. This time around, we’re asking a different question about trees; which ones are the tallest? We’re highlighting the 3 tallest trees on Earth, starting with the Douglas-fir. Watch the video below to check out the complete top 10 list from Trend Max:

3) Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)


500-1000+ years

A member of the pine family, the Douglas-fir is native to western North America. It’s named after Scottish botanist, David Douglas, who first discovered this towering species of tree in the early 19th century. Its name is somewhat misleading, as it’s not actually a true “fir” tree (as it isn’t a member of the genus Abies). This is why a hyphen is often included in its name. It’s important to note that only Douglas-fir trees on the coast can reach such incredible heights, because of the increased elevation and moisture levels. Those grown elsewhere will only reach a fraction of the height. After 100 years its bark becomes so thick it can resist the flames from forest fires. In fact, the Douglas-fir needs fire in order to reproduce. Native Americans and Hawaiians have used these big trees for centuries as a means to create shelter and to make canoes. The only wooden ships still used by the United States Navy are called “minesweepers” and made exclusively from the trunks of Douglas-fir trees.


2) Swamp Gum (Eucalyptus regnans)


400+ years

The Swamp Gum may be the second tallest tree in the world, but it boasts another accolade; it’s the highest flowering plant in the world. Its recognizable straight and grayish trunk with smooth bark creates a menacingly tall canopy, however the first 15 meters of the bark is quite the opposite; dark brown and coarse. The Swamp Gum grows in wet forests, in places receiving 45” of rainfall per year, and often has a rain-forest understory of small shade-tolerant plants. Logged for centuries, these trees once reached even greater heights, with some recorded in Australia standing over 425 feet tall. If not destroyed for logging, these trees are often victims of forest fires, although they regenerate by seed. The Swamp Gum produces white flowers in the fall months.


1) Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)


600-1800+ years

The Coast Redwood is the only living species of the genus Sequoia, in the cypress family. It’s the tallest tree on Earth, reaching heights of over 375 feet. Some of the larger Redwoods are over 30 feet in diameter. They are found on a narrow strip of land on the west coast of the United States, an area around 500 miles in length and less than 50 miles in width. Before extensive logging, these behemoths used to occupy over 2 million acres along the California and Oregon coast.

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