Sequoia sempervirens

Cupressaceae (formerly Taxodiaceae)


The magnificent, and justly famous, huge, green cathedral redwoods are photographed endlessly. On this page I've chosen to show young and second and third growth trees in and around Berkeley, California, my home base. The trees in this photo are in the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, and were planted in 1941.

COAST REDWOOD, along with giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are the iconic trees of California, much written about and fawned over. The tallest living tree and among the oldest living trees, coast redwood was logged extensively by the 1860s, and  now only about 5% remains of the original stands.

Wood is strong, straight grained, rot resistant, and was used extensively for construction during the Gold Rush, and again after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.

Coast redwood grows in a narrow belt of coastal California, extending north into southwest Oregon. However it does not grow right to the ocean as it is intolerant of windy conditions and salt spray. In Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, I noticed that Sitka spruce replaced redwood close to the coast, and in stunted form, right down into the dunes.

Jared Farmer writes about coast redwood and giant sequoia in Trees in Paradise.

More here

This is an enormously readable book that covers the intertwined social, political, and economic history of both sequoias, as well as eucalyptus, citrus, and palms.

The evergreen leaves are needlelike and usually less than an inch long. There are two whitish stomatal bands on the underside. Entire twigs fall, not the leaves individually.


Twig with pollen cones, late January. Pollen cones are tiny, 0.1 to 0.2 inches long, at branch tips or on side branches.

Woody, oval seed cones are about 1 inch long, and dangle at the end of branch tips. Coast redwood cone is to the right, shown with the strikingly similar cone of dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

REDWOOD, disproportionate.jpg

Though people are inordinately fond of coast redwoods, and they originally extended into the Berkeley/Oakland Hills due to fog coming through the Golden Gate, they are a problematic street tree as they grow to enormous size and drop copious litter. This one is in North Berkeley.


Original range of coast redwood is shown in green, giant sequoia in pink. The dots on the east side of San Francisco Bay indicate original range of redwoods in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills.

Map from Wikipedia


Second growth coast redwoods in Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park near Berkeley.