MadSci Network: Botany

Re: What is the biggest tree in the world?

Area: Botany
Posted By: William M. Rich, MD faculty,Univ. Med. Ctr
Date: Thu Jul 10 22:09:27 1997
Area of science: Botany
ID: 866650788.Bt
Anna Marie,

The largest tree, not the tallest, is a Giant Sequoia located in Sequoia National Park in the southern Sierra Mountains of California. It is called The General Sherman. It is the largest living organism on Earth. It is about 275 feet tall and 36.5 feet in diameter. It is about 2,300 to 2,700 years old. One of it's neighbors it The General Grant.

You can see a picture of a Giant Sequoia that had been cut down at the web site of the Natural History Museum in London at and read about tham at

I am a medical doctor and live in Fresno, California, not very far from Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. Both of these parks should be on any tourists list of amazing places to visit in this country.

The worlds tallest trees are the Giant Redwoods along the northern California Pacific Coast. The worlds first, second and third tallest trees are all close together in Redwood National Park. They grow to about 367 feet. My son goes to college at Humbolt State University in Arcata, Ca. There are giant redwoods on the campus.

I hope you get to see them someday.

William Rich

Admin note:
David Hershey adds the following:

Depending on how you interpret the word "big" there may be a third answer. The latest "Guinness Book of World Records" lists a tree as the earth's largest living organism. It is a 43 hectare (106 acre) network of quaking aspen tree trunks (Populus tremuloides) in Utah. The mass of the quaking aspen is estimated at 6 million kg (6,600 tons). The quaking aspen is considered a single organism because all the stems originate from one root system. The world record quaking aspen is called Pando.

Quaking aspen has the widest natural range of any tree in North America and second widest in the world. Individuals can survive over one million years (Mitton aand Grant, 1996).


Mitton, J.B. and Grant, M.C. 1996. Genetic variation and natural history of quaking aspen. BioScience 46:25-31.

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