There’s nothing that nature cannot cure. Vast landscapes, rolling hills, and tall mountains soothe the mind, and bring new thoughts to the surface. What’s more exciting is discovering wild, old, and beautiful trees! If you’ve seen one, you know it’s not a sight to miss. They stand tall with their branches reaching out, their century-old roots spreading out endlessly. Some are considered rare due to age, stature, width, or just being a good-old natural wonder. Find out where these beautiful trees live, hide and reign over their kingdom.
General Sherman, Sequoia
Found within Sequoia National Park, California, General Sherman is the largest living single-stem tree in the world, measuring 274.9 feet, and believed to be around 2,500 years old. Another similar tree is General Grant, the third largest tree in the world at 267.4 feet, found in Kings Canyon National Park, California. The name was take from Union Army general and 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant. Giant Sequoias are one the oldest living things on Earth. They are fibrous and thick at the base of the trunk, making for superior fire protection. Their leaves are evergreen, awl-shaped, and arranged spirally on the shoots.
General Sherman receiving two hugs. [www.2.bp.blogspot.com]
Hyperion, Coast Redwood
Standing at 379.1 feet, Hyperion is by far the tallest tree, based on height, and found in a remote area of Redwood National and State Parks. It’s so tall, it trumps over the Statue of Liberty and England’s Big Ben clock! The tree was discovered in August 25, 2006, by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. If you’re dying to make the trek, know that the location is kept secret to protect the tree. Many hikers have tried, but few have seen it. The same secrecy follows the Lost Monarch, measuring 320 feet. The Lost Monarch is the largest coast redwood in volume size. It lives in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park‘s Grove of Titans among other giant redwoods, including the Screaming Titans and El Viejo Del Norte. The coast redwood has a conical crown, with horizontal to slightly drooping branches. The bark is thick, up to 1 foot, soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown color when freshly exposed (hence the name redwood), and weathering darker. The root system is made up of shallow, wide-spreading lateral roots.
Hyperion, Coast Redwood [Image: www.scinotions.com]
Quinault, Western Red Cedar
The Quinault Red Cedar is the largest of its kind, measuring 174 feet tall with a diameter of 19.5 feet. It lies in the northwest shore of Lake Quinault, north of Aberdeen, Washington, at the southern edge of Olympic National Park. Though its age is not certain, some individuals live over a thousand years, with the oldest discovered to be 1,460 years. Usually trees in dense areas will have a crown on top where light is abundant, but in open areas the crown will reach the ground. The foliage consists of flat sprays with scaly leaves going in opposite pairs. When the foliage sprays are crushed, there’s a strong scent reminiscent of pineapple.
Quinault Lake Red Cedar [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/mallady/4477638737/]
Bennett, Western Juniper
The 8,500-foot-tall Bennett, located in Stanislaus National Forest, California is considered the oldest and largest example of a western juniper tree, possibly 3,000 to 6,000 years old. The western juniper is native to the western United States, typically reaching 50 to 70 feet. Its red, fibrous bark is similar to a coastal redwood, and the gnarled branches have lichen on top and reach out to small, shrub-like green leaves. It’s named after the naturalist Clarence Bennett, who began studying the species in the early 1890s. During his initial research from Oregon to Mexico, he mostly found 1,000-year-old tree core samplings, until a Tuolumne County rancher showed him a large western juniper. This wrinkled and knotted tree was Bennett the Western Juniper, measuring 80 feet tall. For centuries it has suffered through droughts, harsh winters, and lightning strikes, but it is still standing today. The last known measurement was taken in 1983; at that time, Bennett was 86 feet in height with a 58-foot crown spread.
Bennett Western Juniper [Image: www.conifers.org]
Seven Sisters Oak
You’re not in a fairytale; this is a real tree in a place not so far away. The Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree. It’s located in Mandeville, Louisiana, and is estimated to be 1,500 years old with a trunk that measures 38 feet, a crown spread of 139 feet, and a height of 68 feet. Not that it would be hard spotting this giant beauty, but live oak trees have stiff and leathery flat leaves with shiny dark green tops and dull gray bottoms. This tree was originally named the Doby’s Seven Sisters Oak tree by one of the former owners, Carole Hendry Doby, who is one of seven sisters. Coincidentally, there are seven sets of branches leading away from the center trunk.
Seven Sisters Oak in Louisiana [Image: www.lgcfinc.org]
The Angel Oak
This beautiful, yet eerie oak tree resides in Johns Island, South Carolina, and believed to be 400 to 1,400 years old. This is the tree of dreams and hideaways. What’s most impressive about the Angel Oak is not its height, but its wide canopy. Their limbs are heavy, almost like tree trunks; they rest on the ground. The area of shade measures 17,000 square feet. The Angel Oak is a native species found throughout the Lowcountry (Coastal Carolina). Surprisingly the name does not come from its characteristic massive, draping limbs and spreading wide canopy, but rather from the tree’s previous owners, Martha and Justin Angel.
Angel Oak in South Carolina [Image: www.joanperry.smugmug.com]
Methuselah, Great Basin Bristlecone Pine
Methuselah is a 4,846 year-old bristlecone pine found in the White Mountains of Inyo National Forest. To put it into perspective, it germinated during the invention of writing by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Methuselah’s exact location is kept secret for fear of vandalism, but there’s a whole trail of ancient bristlecone pines in the White Mountains waiting for you. So, the title of the oldest known living non-clonal organism on Earth goes to Methuselah? Not just yet. In 2012, an older bristlecone pine of 5,064 years old was found in the area, and in the same fashion, its location is kept secret.
Ancient Bristlecone [Image: www.historylines.net]
Pando, Quaking Aspen
Utah’s Fishlake National Forest is home to an ancient clonal colony of quaking aspen. This 105-acre colony is made up of genetically identical trees, called stems, connected by one root system, known as Pando. Pando is the heaviest and oldest living organism at approximately 80,000 years old and weighing six million kilograms! The aspens have smooth bark, mostly greenish-white to gray, and are marked by thick black horizontal scars and obvious black knots. If you see parallel vertical scars it means elk have stripped off the aspen bark using their front teeth.
Quaking Aspen in Utah [Image: www.ravishly.com]
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