Known as Yew Sequoia, Evergreen Sequoia or Evergreen Sequoia, this tree belongs tothe Taxodiaceae family, of which several fossilised specimens have been found in Europe. They are about 7 million years old. Thus, the evergreen sequoia, which was imported from the Pacific coast of the USA in modern times, lived in Europe several million years ago. In its natural range, it can grow up to one metre in height per year. It is one of the tallest trees in the world and its wood is of good quality.
Because of its rapid growth and the qualities of its wood, the yew-leaf sequoia is a tree of great economic and ecological value. It likes humid climates and is adapted to certain valleys in Brittany. Its wood is strong, rot-proof and very fire-resistant. Lightning is one of the means it uses to reproduce in the large forests of the west coast of the United States, where it often strikes large specimens. Fire helps to disperse the seeds and enrich the soil by adding burnt organic matter. The trees also multiply by rejection.
It is also interesting to preserve this tree species, which has been overexploited in the states of Oregon and California. There, ferns are abundant and thick mists are almost constant. These trees need high humidity and capture some of the water they need through their leaves. It is very likely that they themselves are actors in the mists in which they thrive, thanks to the evapotranspiration system of their leaves.
A very large tree, Sequoia sempervirens has a conical shape and a rounded top. As an adult, it has a trunk without branches on the first third or even half of its trunk. The bark is thick and cracked, with a beautiful orange-red colour and a soft, fibrous texture.
Its leaves are evergreen, arranged on the secondary branches in two rows of flat, elongated needles, green above and white below. The leaves on the main branches are applied scales as in cypress or juniper.
It grows at an average rate of 80-90 cm per year, even up to one metre when in very good conditions (in its natural range). In terms of circumference, its average increase is 5 cm per year.
It is the only conifer known to produce starch-rich bulges on its roots (lignotubers). A gigantic lignotuber measuring 14 metres in diameter and weighing more than 500 tonnes has been discovered, bearing no less than seven trunks!
Its current natural habitat is a long, narrow strip 75 km wide and 750 km long between northern California and Oregon, from 0 to 900 metres above sea level, in valleys with rich, deep soil and abundant watering. It can withstand frost and high temperatures but drought is fatal. This is why it can grow in certain valleys in Brittany and western France that are regularly watered by rain.
The wood of the Yew Tree is of excellent quality. It is fairly light and aesthetically pleasing, insect resistant, rot-proof and fire resistant, as it has no resin channels. In the United States, it has been widely used to make railway sleepers, as it is resistant to rot. It is used for outdoor furniture, but also as lumber and construction wood.
The Sierra Nevada Indians revered the Giant Sequoia as the pillar around which the world was created. To date, the tallest tree in the world that we know of is a sequoia sempervirens nicknamed Hyperion, which is more than 115 meters high. It would not be more than 600 years old, whereas this type of tree is capable of living 2000 years. The sequoia is therefore a symbol of longevity, power, strength and energy. Have you ever made a tree gift ? Give a sequoia to a loved one!