The giant sequoia is world-renowned as the largest living thing on the planet, and these majestic trees continue to inspire wonder. Although not the tallest trees, their sheer volume, with the possible exception of colonial organisms such as corals, make giant sequoias the largest living things on earth (3). Also known as 'big tree' in California, the giant sequoia lives up to its name, reaching up to 95 m in height and 11 m in diameter (2). The massive, tapering trunk is a characteristic reddish-brown colour; the bark is extremely thick, sometimes up to 60 cm, and deeply furrowed (4). In mature trees the first half of the trunk is clear of branches, they form a rounded crown towards the top with individual branches sweeping downward with upturned ends (3). The small, scale-like leaves are green and spirally arranged (4). Both male and female cones are carried on the same tree; female cones are up to 7.5 cm long and 4 cm wide, composed of spirally arranged scales. They are reddish-brown when mature and contain numerous, flattened, winged seeds (4).
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