The giant sequoia, closely related to the California Redwoods
, grows only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada
. Once covering much more territory in North America, they are now confined to a few groves, mostly contained within Sequoia National Park
The giant sequoias do not grow as tall as the coast redwoods, but their trunks are much larger. Several of them are about 100 feet in circumference at the base, and the widest is over 37 feet through. The General Sherman tree, the largest, weights about 6000 tons. The wood is very brittle and of no practical interest for logging.
Many of the giant sequoias are several thousand years old. The General Sherman is estimated to be 3500 years old. The trees are not killed by old age, disease or insect attack, but are sometimes vulnerable to lightning strikes at their crowns.