baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

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Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California, USA

This park contains the largest contiguous virgin Opens internal link in current window Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) forest 1 and the tallest canopy in the world 2 . The majority of the tallest known S. sempervirens trees are located in this park, with Stratosphere Giant, 113.61 metres, exceeded only by two trees in Redwood National Park 3 . Forests on alluvial flats are almost pure S. sempervirens . On the slopes, Opens internal link in current window Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii (coast Douglas-fir) is also common. Tree identification is easy. The vegetation differs considerably from that in the coastal parks of north California (see Opens internal link in current window Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park ), the latter being ecologically more similar to the temperate rainforests of coastal Oregon and Washington 4 . Humboldt Redwoods State Park is situated 20–30 km from the coast and consequently the climate is drier. Annual rainfall in the valleys is 1460 mm and average annual temperature 14°C 5 . The pre-settlement return interval for fire has probably been <100 years 6 . Today, prescribed burns are being used for restoring the original fire regime 7 . However, the majority of fires were probably ignited by Native Americans 8 , so the ecological relevance of the burning is somewhat ambiguous. S. sempervirens is well adapted for fires, with its thick fire-resistant bark and – for a conifer – rare sprouting ability 9 .

70 km 2 of the park is covered by virgin forest. Off-trail hiking on alluvial flats is not difficult if you don’t try to climb over fallen trunks. The fern cover is tall and dense in places. Unfortunately, there is a road running through the best groves. Camping is allowed only in designated places.

References :

1 Evarts & Popper (ed.) (2001): Coast Redwood, A Natural and Cultural History. Cachuma Press.

2 Van Pelt (2001): Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast. Global Forest Society.


4 Sawyer, J. O. et al. (2000): Characteristics of Redwood Forests. In Noss, R. F. (ed.): The Redwood Forest . Island Press.

5 Van Pelt & Franklin (2000): Opens external link in new window Influence of canopy structure on the understory environment in tall, old-growth, conifer forests . Canadian Journal of Forest Research 30 , 1231-1245.

6 Stuart, J. D. (1987): Fire history of an old-growth forest of Sequoia sempervirens (Taxodiaceae) forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. Madrono 34 : 128-41.

7 Thornburgh, D. A. et al. (2000): Managing Redwoods. In Noss, R. F. (ed.): The Redwood Forest . Island Press.

8 Lorimer, C. G. et al. (2009): Opens external link in new window Presettlement and modern disturbance regimes in coast redwood forests: Implications for the conservation of old-growth stands . Forest Ecology and Management 258, 1038–1054.

9 Sawyer, J. O. et al. (2000): Redwood Trees, Communities, and Ecosystems: A Closer Look. In Noss, R. F. (ed.): The Redwood Forest . Island Press.

Official site:

Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) forest on Lower Bull Creek Flat, elev. 50 m.
Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) forest, elev. 75 m.
Large Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) tree called Giant Tree.
Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) log and foliage.