Where and how do redwoods grow

The Redwood Forest

Thick Redwood Bark

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Redwood bark, soft and stringy-fibrous, varies in color from red-brown to grayish. On mature trees it may grow to 60 centimeters (2 feet) in thickness. The thick bark protects the tree from fire damage. Repeated hot fires can burn through the bark, and the tree's core may then rot out. These hollowed-out trees are called "goose pens" because early settlers kept poultry in them.

Shredded redwood bark makes an excellent soil conditioner and garden mulch, and it is used as a popular component in potting soil for plants that require large amounts of air around their roots, such as orchids. Until the widespread use of fiberglass and other materials, redwood bark was quite popular as an insulation material. It resists fire, does not pack down or absorb water, and is quite inhospitable to insect or vermin infestations.

Redwood bark has also been used for fishing floats and cork jackets and even for furniture stuffing. Because of its fibrous nature, redwood bark dust was used as a commercial ingredient or agent in many compounds. During its heyday, a large industry had developed to process redwood bark into many different ingredients.

Growing New Trees

Air-borne on narrow, lateral wings, a redwood seed only 3 millimeters long (1/8 inch) drops to the ground from a ripe cone. It will fall within 60-120 meters (200 to 400 feet) of the parent tree. Within a month, warm, moist soils may stimulate it to germinate. If it is on suitable, fresh, mineral soil it will root itself. After its first leaves appear it begins to manufacture its own food. Under optimum conditions the seedling may grow 5 to 7.5 centimeters (2-3 inches) the first year. How to grow your own.

Coast redwoods also reproduce by stump sprouting. This gives them a great reproductive advantage over species that reproduce only by seeds. If a redwood is felled or badly burned, a ring of new trees sprouts from burls around the base of the trunk. Burls develop from buds which do not elongate into shoots. These dormant buds grow into a wart-like mass which may sprout if the tree is damaged. If they sprout, the parent tree's roots are used by the saplings.

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

Redwood National Park

California boasts more people than any other state, but you wouldn't guess that by its rugged North Coast. Nature drives hard bargains in this region, which has been historically isolated by harsh weather and precipitous shorelines. The terrain here is so rough it is no wonder that it took Jedediah Smith, the first European to trek here overland, ten days just to cover the last few kilometers to the coast in 1828. This forbidding character helped protect magnificent coast redwood groves until gold fever 20 years later brought eventual settlement. After 1850, red (wood) "gold" lured loggers away from depleted eastern forests. Logging today is no longer the major industry. Although many giant trees have been cut, some are under the protection of Redwood National Park, which stretches for 80 kilometers (50 miles) in northern California almost to Oregon.

Winds off the vast Pacific, still bearing its fragrance, become land-bound here. They drive the surf that pummels beach and sea-cliffs. They bear rains, too. Near here 442 centimeters (174 inches) of rain were recorded over one winter; 117 centimeters (46 inches) in one month. The rain can transform rivers into raging torrents. In 1964 the Klamath River, normally 0.6 meters (2 feet) deep in summer, raged to 27 meters (90 feet) in December and completely destroyed the town of Klamath.

The rains support an astounding richness in the park's myriad habitats. The Pacific Flyway brings birds during spring and fall migrations; the park boasts 300 species, about half associated with water. Off shore, marine mammals migrate, particularly gray whales. You can also watch for other whales, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. Roosevelt elk are the most commonly seen mammals, and mountain lions, the most elusive of predators, stalk blacktail deer. Rare and endangered species include gray whales, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, and the Aleutian Canada goose. Richness? The inter-tidal zone alone boasts 168 invertebrate species. River otters, mink, and beaver frequent freshwater habitats. Fifteen of western North America's 22 salamander species are found here—but just one poisonous snake. The Northern Pacific rattlesnake is rare and occurs only inland.

Many votes for most popular creatures go to five game fish. Sport and commercial fishermen ply freshwater and saltwater for silver and king salmon, and rainbow, coast cut-throat, and steel head trout. There is far more to Redwood National Park than its spectacular trees.     Continued.

This information is courtesy of the National Park Service

NEXT: Redwood Reproduction - How to Grow Your Own