Tuesday, March 2, 2010

General Sherman tree and other giant trees

The General Sherman tree is estimated to weigh about 2100 tons, the weight of 1489 cubic meters (52,584 cubic feet) of wood in its trunk, excluding branches and roots. Its height is 84.2 m (274.9 ft) and the girth at ground level is 33 m (109 ft).

As of 2009, the largest Giant Sequoias (all located within California) by volume are about 50, according to Wikipedia and other sources. Following General Sherman tree, General Grant tree (Grant Grove), President tree, (Giant Forest), Lincoln tree (Giant Forest), Stagg tree (Alder Creek Grove), Boole tree (Converse Basin), Franklin tree (Giant Forest), King Arthur tree (Garfield Grove), Monroe tree (Giant Forest), and Genesis tree (Mountain Home Grove) come in the list of largest ten trees in the world.

When we use superlatives like the largest tree, please note that these are based on the volume of wood in the main trunk (stem) of the tree. These measurements need not be accurate, and in fact, have a low degree of accuracy, varying up to 14 cubic meters (+/-), due to difficulties in taking accurate measurements.

To calculate the volume, the diameter of the stem is measured at set heights up the trunk and it is assumed that the trunk is circular in cross section. It is also assumed that the taper between measurement points is even. Also, if the tree has cavities it is not taken into account as it is neither easy to measure the cavity nor easy to know the extent to which the cavity exists. Also, the volume measurements show only the volume of the trunk, and do not include the volume of wood in the branches or roots.

The Hazelwood Tree, not listed in the 50 largest trees, had a volume of 36,228 cubic feet before losing half its trunk in a lightning storm in 2002. If it were still at full size it would have been the 16th largest giant sequoia on earth. Click here for more details and photo of General Sherman tree.

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