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In Brief

California’s Redwood Parks Showcase World’s Oldest, Tallest Trees

04 January 2012

Cluster of redwood trees reaching to sky (U.S. National Park Service)

California’s Redwood National and State Parks offer many attractions, but chief among them are the parks’ old-growth forests of coastal sequoia trees, which are the oldest and tallest trees on Earth. Known as “the Ancients,” these massive sequoias can range from 500 to 2,000 years old.

Sequoia sempervirens — the oldest, tallest tree species on Earth — ranks high among the many attractions of California’s famous Redwood National and State Parks.

Bordering the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco, the 157-kilometer property achieved national park status in 1968 and includes state parks established in the 1920s. The parks are home to a multitude of species — including sea lions, bald eagles and black bears — but their primary feature is the coastal redwood forest, whose massive sequoia trees (popularly known as “the Ancients”) can range from 500 to 2,000 years old. As of September 2006, the parks’ tallest tree stood at 379.1 feet (115.5 meters).

The redwood forest is a surviving remnant of a group of trees that has existed for 160 million years, so today’s redwoods are descended from trees that lived during the age of the dinosaurs. In 1980, the parks were designated as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)