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Know about General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree on Earth by volume

Discover the awe-inspiring size of the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world found in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

By Ground report
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Know about General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree on Earth by volume

The mid-sierra zone (5,000-8,000 ft or 1,524-2,438 m) is creating ideal conditions for the growth of giant sequoias. The world's largest tree has been able to reach its maximum size in these parks due to mild winter and summer temperatures, deep winter snowpack, and a rich fire history.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks boast possession of many of the world's largest trees by volume. The General Sherman Tree, being the largest in the world, measures 52,508 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters). The General Grant Tree, being the second largest, measures 46,608 cubic feet (1,320 cubic meters).

The size of the giant sequoias is difficult to appreciate because the neighbouring trees are so large. The largest sequoias stand as tall as the average 26-story building, and their base diameters exceed the width of many city streets. They produce about 40 cubic feet (one cubic meter) of wood each year, approximately equating to the volume of a tree that's 50 feet (15 meters) tall and one foot in diameter, as their growth continues.

Know about General Sherman Tree

General Sherman is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree located in Sequoia National Park in California. It is the world's largest living tree by volume, with a trunk volume of 52,500 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters). General Sherman is about 2,100 years old, 271 feet tall, and has a circumference of 102 feet.

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The world's largest tree by volume, General Sherman, is located in Sequoia National Park. Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher

General Sherman also stands tall at 274.9 feet (83.8 meters) high, but that doesn't bring it close to the record of the tallest tree. Hyperion, a 379.7-foot-tall (115.7 m) redwood also in California, holds the honor of being the tallest tree in the world.

In 2006, the tree lost a huge branch, shattering a new walkway and fence below. However, this did not affect General Sherman's rank as the largest tree, since the ranking is based on trunk volume, not branches.

Though the General Sherman Tree is the largest known tree, it does not hold the distinction of being the tallest living tree on Earth - a title that the Hyperion tree, a Coast redwood holds. Moreover, it is not the widest tree either, as the largest cypress and largest baobab have a greater diameter.

Statistics about the General Sherman Tree

Feet Meters
Height above Base 274.9 83.8
Circumference at Ground 102.6 31.1
Maximum Diameter at Base 36.5 11.1
Diameter 60' (18.3 m) above base 17.5 5.3
Diameter 180' (54.9 m) above base 14.0 4.3
Diameter of Largest Branch 6.8 2.1
Height of First Large Branch above the Base 130.0 39.6
Average Crown Spread 106.5 32.5

History

In 1879, naturalist James Wolverton, who had served as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under General William Tecumseh Sherman, named the General Sherman Tree after him. In 1931, after comparing it with the nearby General Grant tree, they identified General Sherman as the largest tree in the world. One result of this process was that wood volume became widely accepted as the standard for establishing and comparing the size of different trees.

Its name briefly changed to Karl Marx when a socialist colony took over the land, but it reverted back after Sequoia National Park was established. Recognized as the world’s largest tree in 1931, the General Sherman Tree became a benchmark for measuring tree size by volume.

In 2006, the tree lost its largest branch, an event that did not signal any health issues but was seen as a natural response to environmental stress. The tree’s resilience is part of its legacy, enduring through natural challenges over its long life.

The General Sherman Tree faced a new threat with the KNP Complex Fire in 2021. Firefighters wrapped its base in protective foil to shield it from potential damage. This precaution was part of ongoing efforts to protect these natural giants from increasingly severe wildfires, ensuring that they continue to stand tall for future generations to admire.

General Sherman Tree

  • The General Sherman tree, located in Sequoia National Park in California, holds the title for the largest tree in the world by volume.
  • The trunk of the tree alone weighs about 1,385 tons, which makes it one of the heaviest living organisms on the planet.
  • Estimates suggest that the tree is around 2,200 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on earth.
  • A whopping height of 275 feet (84 meters), or roughly the equivalent of a 25-story building, is what the General Sherman tree stands at.
  • The tree possesses a diameter of over 36 feet (11 meters) at the base, and someone measures its circumference at 103 feet (31 meters).
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General Sherman Tree, The Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California. Image credit: Ken Lund/flickr

History and Naming

  • The tree was named after General William Tecumseh Sherman, who served as a Union Army general during the American Civil War.
  • They chose the name "Sherman" to honour the general and his efforts in securing the national park territory for the public to enjoy.
  • The General Sherman tree, being one of the most famous and recognizable trees in the world, faces some challenges regarding conservation efforts.
  • This natural wonder will be preserved for generations to come as Sequoia National Park has implemented policies and procedures.

Interesting Facts About General Sherman Tree

  • Estimates put the weight of the General Sherman Tree around 1,385 tons, making it one of the heaviest living things on Earth.
  • The tree still grows and produces an average of 1.3 cubic meters of wood per year, equivalent to a 60-foot-tall tree.
  • The bark of the tree can grow up to two feet thick, helping to protect the tree from forest fires.
  • Despite its size, the General Sherman Tree doesn't hold the title as the oldest tree in the world. A Great Basin bristlecone pine that is over 5,000 years old holds that title.

Keep Reading

Know about Asia's lone Redwood Tree, 'Sequoiadendron Giganteum'

Top 10 Oldest Living Trees in the World

What’s the oldest tree on Earth, will it survive climate change?

Top 5 largest living organisms on earth

Protecting old trees helps mitigate climate change

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