Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.) J.Buchholz

Giant sequoia, Wellingtonia or Sierra redwood

Family: Cupressaceae
54º 34.977N
5º 56.146W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

There are three “redwoods” – dawn redwood (Metasequoia)coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Giant sequoia is distinct from the other two as its needles are short and pressed against the stem. In the wild they are found in a few small groves in the Sierra Nevada in California where they reach over 90m height and up to 17m in diameter (see Wikipedia article). They grow well in Ireland and there are already some dramatic trees that look as if they could reach 50 to 80m at maturity. The specimen in the Belfast Botanic Gardens was planted in the mid-1970s in the area just behind the Kelvin statue. It replaces an older tree dating from Victorian planting around the 1890s. This tree was damaged and was taken out about 1973 and the present replacement planted.

The pollen cones are produced in late autumn and the small female cones are fertilised in winter. The female cones expand in the first year remaining green, then ripen and turn brown in the second year. The trunk tapers to a wide base and the bark is distinctively thick and soft and in the wild affords considerable protection against fire damage.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.