Have you ever seen a canopy like this?
(Picture from here)
What’s going on with those gaps between the leaves/branches? Turns out there’s this thing called “crown shyness,” a phenomenon observed in some species of trees. The phenomenon occurs when different trees’ crowns do not touch each other, leaving these funky channels of gaps between the crowns.
No one really knows what causes this crown shyness. One theory is that the behavior is adaptive, helping to prevent the spread of bugs/larvae that eat leaves. Another theory is that the behavior develops due to the fact that too-close branches can be damaged in storms and high winds from bonking into one another. Still another theory has to do with light. The behavior develops to help ensure that the leaves of a tree are not blocked by the shade of another tree’s leaves, thus getting an optimal chance for light.
I had no idea there was a giant Sequoia in Boise.
Of the like 400 things I would like to study if I ever went back to school (again), one of the top options would be trees. Old, giant trees. I love these massive beings.
God, look at these incredible beings.
I just hope they’re able to survive humans.
Alright you bro-factories, sit down and let me tell you the tale of the amazing and colossal Redwoods in Jedediah State Park, the quest for the Grove of Titans, and how Nate and I almost died in the woods.
So you get to this state park and you see all these random trees everywhere, and then suddenly—BAM—Redwoods.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Okay, cool, trees that are pretty tall, hooray for you, whatever.”
You are WRONG.
LOOK AT THESE.
They just jut right out of the ground. It’s like someone air-lifted massive pillars of ridiculously straight-growing trees and just plunked them into the soil. These don’t taper at all until like 50 feet up.
They’re all over the place in this park.
And let me tell you something else…those Redwoods in the pictures above? Those are the small ones.
Remember way back to NaNoWriMo last year when I wrote that godawful story Arborhood? I was (loosely) basing the Redwoods in my story on the Redwoods in what is known as the Grove of Titans. The Grove of Titans is a grove within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park that contains quite a few super massive Coastal Redwoods—some of the biggest (height-wise and/or volume-wise) trees in the world, actually. These massive trees were the ones I’d written about.
So today, since we were in Jedediah, we decided to go hunt for the Grove.
Brief background: we both knew about the existence of the Grove before we got to the park; hell, we did about two hours of internet research the night before trying to pinpoint where it might be. The actual specific location of the Grove is not supposed to be revealed (to protect the giant trees within), but we found several legitimate-looking online sources to give us a good set of hints to find it.
Or so we thought.
Lots of the sources said that the trail was “faint” but “slightly worn from foot traffic.” There were also hints telling us to look for a specific and distinctive burl on one of the titans (it was said this burl could be seen from the main trail). This burled giant would lead us to the Grove. But we also found one source that appeared to very accurately pinpoint the location of the Grove based on some specific locations.
So what did we do when, not two miles down the trail, found a faint but “this is probably a trail” trail that was kind of close to where we thought the Grove should be? Why, we followed it, of course.
We followed it until it stopped being anything resembling a trail…then we kept going. For a mile and a half.
(This picture does not do those woods justice.)
And we weren’t just walking through some light underbrush or anything. We were freaking marching through super thick ferns, super thick plants-that-weren’t-ferns, dead and rotting fallen trees, walls of branches and twigs, an uncountable number of spider webs, hovering masses of mosquitoes, and who knows how many other bugs. The fact that we didn’t end up with poison oak is a freaking miracle.
Anyway, we eventually decided to give up after it was clear that the Grove of Titans was NOT where the internet said it was (surprised?). Defeated by flora, we returned to the main trail and trudged on.
You know where we found the Grove?Well, one of the internet sources was right—it’s “hidden in plain sight.” It really is. You just have to know what to look for. And we did! (And even then we kind of found it in a more difficult manner, haha).
And now, behold: GIANT TREES.
This is the Screaming Titans, two massive Redwoods fused together. One source says he’s 30 feet in diameter at his diameter breast height (measured 4.5 feet above soil level). The fact that he is two fused trees and not just one on its own is what keeps him from holding any records. He is the first one in the Grove we saw.
The above is El Viejo Del Norte. He’s 23 feet in diameter and 323 feet high and holds an estimated 35,000 cubic feet of wood. He’s got a super distinctive burl on him and is the fifth largest Coastal Redwood.
This massive tree is the Lost Monarch, the largest (non-single-stem) Coastal Redwood. She is at least 26 feet in diameter and 320 feet high. She’s estimated to hold 42,500 cubic feet of wood. Here’s Nate for size comparison:
It’s too bad pictures can’t do these guys justice, really. Will videos work any better?
There are other record-holding trees in the Grove, of course, but these were the three we could easily recognize from pictures we’d seen online. If you ever get to Jedediah, it is so worth trying to find the Grove of Titans. Trust me.
Just don’t go too far off trail or you’ll be eaten by spiders.
Dude. These redwoods are so freaking cool. I had no idea.
Some summarized facts from here:
- Redwoods have been around for 240 million years; the currently oldest living one is at least 2,200 years old (that’s one of the trees in my NaNo!).
- There are approximately 50 redwoods taller than 360 feet (the tallest redwood is also in my story!).
- The sequoiadendron giganteum, the “giant sequoia,” grows in California’s Sierra Nevada range and nowhere else on earth.
- The bark on a redwood can be up to a foot thick, and they are very fire- and bug-resistant.
Seriously, read about these awesome things (there’s a lot more on that site). I really want to go see the California redwoods now, even if I don’t stumble upon the Grove of Titans (coolest name or coolest name?).