Trees have a reason for growing tall, and it’s not to get recognition for the Guinness world record of tallest tree, they grow to compete for sunlight. However, there is a tree which has taken competition to a whole new level and has earned the title of tallest tree in the world. This tree has been named Hyperion and is a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) that measures 379.3 feet tall. This tree is located somewhere in Redwood National Park, but the exact location is kept a secret to protect it from potential damage by the public. The tree is estimated to contain 18,600 cubic feet of wood and to be 700-800 years old.
Redwoods grow in a limited area that covers a narrow 450-mile strip along the Pacific Ocean from central California to southern Oregon. Redwoods favor this area because temperatures are moderate year-round, and heavy winter rain and fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean in the summer provide the tree with the water they need to grow to such heights.
It is difficult for a tree to grow to these heights because pulling water up through the trunk is a fight against gravity. Water stress limits the growth of leaves at the top of trees. This is because growth is driven by water pressure, but as the tree gets taller, the relative water shortage decreases the water pressure and the leaves grow slower and smaller.
The tannin content in the wood of these trees gives them an incredible resistance to fungus and insect pests. And the thick, fibrous bark insulates the tree from periodic forest fires that occur naturally in the redwood region.
Before the redwood forests were preserved in 1968 most of the forest was logged, but the wood was not very usable because the weight of the trees causes it to shatter when it is cut and felled.
The Redwood National Park is full of these tall majestic giants and there have been several trees that have claimed the title of tallest tree, but the current record holder (Hyperion) was only discovered in 2006 where it replaced the previous record holder “Stratosphere Giant”.
There is a tree that is larger than Hyperion in volume called General Sherman, a giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in Sequoia National Park. But there are many trees within these forests that have amazed and inspired many through the years.
Whether you are looking at the tallest tree, largest tree, or just hiking among these giants, it is difficult to understand just how awe inspiring these trees are without seeing them for yourself.