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Tree Campus: Giant Sequoia/Big tree

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Giant Sequoia/Big tree

Sequoiadendron gigantea (CUPRESSACEAE)



North-Central California



"Over 30 bird species have been identified in giant sequoia groves. A variety of foliage- and air-feeding birds occupy the upper canopy, while sapsuckers feed through the thin bark. Cavity-nesters that use giant sequoia for nesting include white-headed woodpeckers and flickers, and an occasional perching bird such as a nuthutch.

Common mammal associates include the deer mouse, chipmunk, shrew, gray squirrel, golden-mantled ground squirrel, mule deer, coyote, black bear, and various reptiles. Reports of chipmunks using giant sequoia sawdust for cleansing baths have been noted. The chickaree is especially noted for its relationship to giant sequoia. Chickarees make the soft flesh of green giant sequoia cone scales a major food item. An individual chickaree may cut and eat as many as 3,000 to 3,500 cones per year.

Wildlife primarily use giant sequoia for cover. Early in giant sequoia development, large mammals use dense stands as hiding and thermal cover. Mature trees are used to a limited extent by arboreal species such as birds, squirrels, and other small mammals...

Insects do not seriously harm giant sequoias older than about 2 years. Carpenter ants (Campanotus laevigatus) do not directly harm the trees, although they do create pathways for fungi. A wood-boring beetle (Trachykele opulenta) may kill trees damaged by road cuts or the undercutting of stream banks. The larvae of this beetle may girdle a giant sequoia by feeding on the inner bark. The cerambycid beetle (Phymatodes nitidus) lays its larvae in green giant sequoia cones. Other cone larvae predators are the gelechiid moth (Gelechia spp.) and lygaeid bug (Ischnorrhynchus resedae). In all, 151 species of insects and 37 arachnids are known to be associated with the giant sequoia in that they use it to complete some part of their life cycle .

At least nine fungi have been found associated with decayed giant sequoia wood. The most prevalent fungi are Heterobasidion annosum, Armillaria mellea, Poria incrassata, and P. albipellucida. Diseases generally do not kill trees past the seedling stage directly, but rather by contributing to root or stem failure. No other types of disease, including seedling disease, are known to be problems to giant sequoia.

Air-pollution creating acidic mists significantly reduce root growth of giant sequoia. The development of facilities for human use, such as paved roads and buildings, can damage giant sequoia roots and hence slow growth." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"[Tule River Tribe Community] use of giant sequoia areas has historically been for recreation, cultural values, and for products derived from the dead and down trees. These same areas comprise a high percentage of the best growing sites for the other mixed-conifer species and generate a significant portion of the whitewood timber sale revenue for the Tribal Council. Giant sequoia management strategies, therefore, involve providing both cultural and economic benefits to the Reservation community." [2]



"Giant sequoia was cut commercially from the 1850s up to the mid-1950s.

Young giant sequoia has favorable wood properties. It is decay-resistant and used as dimensional lumber, veneer, and plywood . Old growth has low tensile strength and brittleness, making it unsuitable for most structural purposes. The most historically popular items milled from giant sequoia were fenceposts, grape stakes, shingles, novelties, patio furniture, and pencils...

Giant sequoia is planted as an ornamental inside and outside of its native range. It is also used for Christmas trees." [1]

"The Tule River Tribal Council manages their sequoia groves with general oversight provided by the USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs. For over 40 years, Tribal use of the groves has focused on recreation, whitewood timber production, and utilization of dead and down wood for minor forest products." [2]



[1] Habeck, R. J. 1992. Sequoiadendron giganteum. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

[2] Rueger, B. (1994). Giant Sequoia Management Strategies on the Tule River Indian Reservation1. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Giant Sequoias: Their Place in the Ecosystem and Society: June 23-25, 1992, Visalia, California (Vol. 151, p. 116). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.

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