Western North America is home to the tallest, largest, and oldest documented trees known to still be living. The Coastal Redwoods of California’s northern coast are the tallest living things in the world. Starting from seeds the size of tomato seeds, they can grow over 300 feet in only a couple hundred years. The tallest Coastal Redwood is 367 feet tall, with a width at its base of 22 feet. Due to the high tannin content of the wood, they are highly disease and insect resistant. Coastal Redwoods are also resistant to fire. Having no taproot, their roots only reach 10 to 13 feet deep and spread outward 60 to 80 feet. Because of this, the most frequent cause of death among them, aside from logging, is toppling. Coastal Redwoods commonly live more than 2,000 years, and a few are over 4,000 years old.
Another type of redwood, the Giant Sequoia, does not get quite as tall as the Coastal Redwoods but tends to be more massive. Giant Sequoias are the largest living things on earth. Trunk diameters of up to 30 feet are not uncommon, and their branches can be 50 feet long. Their bark can be 4 feet thick! The largest Giant Sequoia is known as the “General Sherman,” with a volume of over 55,000 cubic feet. It is only 274.9 feet tall, but it has a diameter at its base of 36.5 feet and a crown spread of 106.5 feet. Giant Sequoias grow at elevations of 4,900–8,200 feet on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Central California. They commonly reach an age of 2,000–3,000 years.
The oldest documented living things on earth are the Bristlecone Pines of the Great Basin areas of the Western United States. Earth’s oldest known living inhabitant, a Bristlecone Pine known as “Methuselah,” is 4,767 years old and is found in the White Mountains of California. In 1964, a Bristlecone Pine was cut down that was determined to be 4,862 years old. The age of a tree is determined by taking core samples and counting the growth rings. For each year of life, a new growth ring is produced. Bristlecone Pines are usually less than 60 feet tall. They are native to dry, windswept mountaintops above 10,000 feet.
The ages of some of the trees mentioned above would place them on the earth before the flood, which is not a problem if you consider this Spirit of Prophecy quote: “God by his miraculous power preserved a few of the different kinds of trees and shrubs alive for future generations.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 77.
There is a champion tree in Heaven whose glory surpasses that of all other trees. “The fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden possessed supernatural virtue. To eat of it was to live forever. Its fruit was the antidote of death. Its leaves were for the sustaining of life and immortality.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 288. Man lost the right to eat of this tree when sin entered the world. The tree was removed from the earth before the flood and now resides in Heaven. (See “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 989; Patriarchs and Prophets, 62.) Access to the tree of life will soon be restored to man through Christ. (See Early Writings, 126.) “If you are true and humble and faithful in this life, you will be given an abundant entrance. Then the tree of life will be yours, for you will be a victor over sin; the city whose builder and maker is God will be your city.” Ibid., 125.
David Arbour writes from his home in DeQueen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.