Which are the Largest Trees?

Mary McMahon

When it comes to largest trees, the Giant Sequoia is usually treated as the undisputed king. In terms of sheer bulk, these trees usually top the list of largest trees. Sitka Spruces, Western Red Cedars, Kauri Trees, Coast Douglas Firs, and Australian Mountain-Ashes also tend to be very large trees. However, there are a number of ways to conceptualize “largest,” so several individual trees vie for the position of largest tree in the world.

Redwoods are known for growing into massive trees.
Redwoods are known for growing into massive trees.

In terms of volume, the largest tree in the world is the Giant Sequoia known as General Sherman. General Sherman grows in Sequoia National Park, and measures an astounding 52,508 feet (1,487 meters) in bole volume alone. The bole volume is the estimated volume of the trunk of a tree, excepting the branches, which add even more volume. General Sherman is 275 feet (85 meters) tall. If you want to visit General Sherman, you'll have to take a trip to California, where Sequoia National Park is located, and you will also have a chance to see some other very impressive Giant Sequoias in the neighborhood.

Northern California is well known for its large redwood trees.
Northern California is well known for its large redwood trees.

While you're in California, you can take a look at another entry in the list of the world's largest trees, Hyperion, discovered in 2006. Hyperion is a Coast Redwood in Redwood National Park in Northern California, and this tree is 379 feet (115 meters) tall, making it the tallest known living tree. This region of California is famous for its Avenue of the Giants, a stand of impressive redwood trees which includes a Drive Through Tree.

In Mexico, the largest tree in terms of circumference can be seen. El Arbol del Thule, an epic Montezuma Cypress, measures a staggering 118 feet (36 meters) around. This tree is a popular tourist attraction, located in the middle of the town square in Santa Maria del Tule in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. The size of the trunk has led some researchers to suggest that the tree might actually be a clonal colony of genetically identical individuals.

Speaking of clonal colonies, Pando, a clonal colony of quaking aspens in the state of Utah, covers 107 acres (43 hectares). If area is your measurement, Pando tops the list of the world's largest trees by far, but some people might might quibble with its inclusion on a list of the largest trees. Although Pando is comprised of genetically identical clones connected with a root system, the trees are technically individuals, and the age of the colony has led some arborists to suggest that some parts of the colony may have become separated, meaning that they are no longer even linked by their roots, making their inclusion in the collective questionable.

A giant sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world.
A giant sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world.

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Discussion Comments


In reference to the other reply (not why I posted really), but the circumference of Hyperion redwood is between 47 and 48 feet.

About the additional above about Pando / Aspen:

In Prairie Creek, I saw a stand or row of curly redwood that are good evidence that comparable or larger redwood clonal stands may exist, in relation to the Aspen colony. I recall about six to eight big redwoods in the row, likely all connected root to root. Others off to the side may be connected too. That was not related to our tree measuring task, so we just moved on.

The clonal stands are a tangent we don't get involved with. Too much forest, too little time. And not much profit from the hunt anyway.

Measurement on an individual tree and single main stem basis seems like the way to go.


what is the circumference of Hyperion?

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