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sequoia (sĭkwoiˈə), name for the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and for the big tree, or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), both huge, coniferous evergreen trees of the bald cypress family, and for extinct related species. Sequoias probably originated over 100 million years ago. Once widespread in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the trees were almost exterminated by the ice sheets of the glacial ages. Several species are known only by fossil remains; some such fossils have been found in the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

The two living species survive only in a narrow strip near the Pacific coast of the United States. The redwood occurs along the coast of California and S Oregon, often in easily lumbered, pure stands. Growing 100 to 385 ft (30–117 m) high, it is probably the tallest tree in the world; the tallest known tree is the redwood Hyperion (379.1 ft/115.5 m), in Redwood National Park. The redwood is able to obtain the abundant moisture needed to sustain its towering growth by capturing water from regularly occurring ocean fogs. The water then drips down from the leaves and branches to the soil, where it penetrates to be absorbed by the roots. The redwood's trunk is 20 to 25 ft (6.1–7.6 m) in diameter, and its needlelike leaves are usually bluish green. Some redwoods are believed to be over 2,000 years old. The big tree, 150 to 325 ft (46–99 m) tall and with a trunk 10 to 30 ft (3–9.1 m) in diameter, grows on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California. It reaches an even greater age than the redwood; some individuals are believed to be 3,000 to 4,000 years old. The leaves are small, overlapping scales. Both trees have deeply grooved, reddish bark and soft, straight-grained, reddish heartwood whose resistance to decay makes it especially valuable for outdoor building purposes, e.g., for shingles, siding, and flumes. Although the sequoias are protected in Kings Canyon, Redwood, Sequoia, and Yosemite national parks, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and several California state parks, their existence elsewhere is threatened by exploitation.

China's deciduous dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia) is believed to be a related species and is perhaps an ancestor of the California redwood. This genus was named and described from fossil remains a few years before the few living specimens were discovered during World War II. Some thousand trees were subsequently found, and they were on the verge of extinction by lumbering. The fast-growing dawn redwoods are now propagated elsewhere. The East Indian and South American redwoods are in the unrelated brazilwood genus.

The sequoia is classified in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida, order Coniferales, family Taxodiaceae.


See N. Taylor, The Ageless Relicts (1963); R. Silverberg, Vanishing Giants (1969).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of coniferous evergreen trees of the family Taxodiaceae. The sole species is the redwood (S. sempervirens). The redwood and the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are among the tallest trees in the world. The redwood reaches heights greater than 100 m and diameters of 8.5 m. It forms dense forests in the mountains of California and southern Oregon. Fossils of the tree have been found in Europe and Asia. The wood is used in construction, for example, for underwater structures. It is rarely cultivated; in the USSR it is grown in Western Transcaucasia and also on the southern coast of the Crimea.


Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A genus of conifers having overlapping, scalelike evergreen leaves and vertical grooves in the trunk; the giant sequoia (Sequoia gigantea) is the largest and oldest of all living things.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


either of two giant Californian coniferous trees, Sequoia sempervirens (redwood) or Sequoiadendron giganteum (formerly Sequoia gigantea) (big tree or giant sequoia): family Taxodiaceae
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The mature garden overlooks open fields and is bordered by a selection of mature trees, including a Redwood and two Wellingtonias. There is also a small orchard and productive vegetable garden.
ROYAL DOWNSTAIRS BBC2 Monday, Queen Victoria also planted a tree, a Wellingtonia, which still survives to this day.
The Old Vicarage is surrounded by its own mature grounds with fine ornamental trees including a Wellingtonia. The grounds are surrounded by open farmland which is typical of this beautiful area.
In the grounds are paths leading to the edge of the lake and many specimen trees: wellingtonia, redwood, gingkoa, and weeping lime.
Edwards writes, "it may be that the traveller who finds himself for the first time in the midst of a grove of Wellingtonia gigantea feels something of the same overwhelming sense of awe and wonder; but the great trees, though they have taken three thousand years to grow, lack the pathos and the mystery that comes of human labour." (34) The strange beauty of the Dolomite peaks had fascinated Edwards while she sketched them, but Edwards was a woman of culture, and the monuments of ancient Egypt opened vast new regions of history and experience for her to contemplate.
For the past three years I have been trying to grow a lawn under a massive, 80-foot-high Wellingtonia Pine, which completely dominates my garden.
25-31 Oct 1840.--Type: Wellingtonia Meisn., 1840.--Validated by a diagnosis in Latin and an indirect reference to the illegitimate (Art.
There is the newly-introduced Golden Dawn Redwood, the cultivar Goldrush and a rare Hungarian form of the Wellingtonia of Giant Redwood, with its weeping side branches cascading down the trunk.
The English, naturally, thought Wellingtonia gigantea would be fitting.
They include a sandstone terrace and York stone steps with architecturally landscaped water features connected by a long rill; well-stocked borders; a terrace with a "thyme walk"; yew-lined croquet lawn; circular triple fountain with views of the Teme Valley; lawns and trees including a Wellingtonia, a Polynesia, a Judas tree, a golden rain tree and a cedar.
It is characterised by the Wellingtonia tree with screening beech and laurel hedges, flagged patio area taking full advantage of the sunny rear aspect, summer house, vegetable plot and soft fruit area.

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