Looking up the trunk of a giant sequoia

Giant sequoia

In terms of volume, giant sequoias may be the largest living things on the planet. These wonders of the natural world can reach almost 100 metres in height with a trunk 11 metres in diameter. It takes 20 years for a giant sequoia to mature and produce cones. Each cone contains hundreds of winged seeds that can be dispersed far and wide by wind, insects and animals. Fire plays an important role in the ecology of giant sequoia trees. It clears away the competition and improves soil for seed germination. The loose fibres that make up the sequoia's extremely thick bark is fire resistant. Giant sequoias only grow naturally in the groves of the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, USA.

Scientific name: Sequoiadendron

Rank: Genus

Common names:

  • Sierra redwood,
  • Sierran redwood,
  • Wellingtonia

Watch video clips from past programmes (2 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


The Giant sequoia can be found in a number of locations including: North America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Giant sequoia distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Coniferous forest Coniferous forest
The coniferous forests of temperate regions undergo warm summers and cool winters, unlike their tropical counterparts. The species aren't exclusively conifers, there are usually a few broadleaf varieties too.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Plants
  3. Conifers
  4. Pinopsida
  5. Modern conifers
  6. Cupressaceae
  7. Giant sequoia

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Nature's record breakers Nature's record breakers

    Animal kingdom record breakers - how fast can a cheetah run, how heavy is an elephant and what's bigger than a dinosaur? Watch amazing video clips from the BBC archive and uncover the fascinating facts about our smallest primate, the longest stick insect and the most venomous snake.