General Sherman

Manojit Ghosh

Photographs: Wikipedia, National Geographic
Category: Featured Article
Date of Publication: Feb 22 , 2013Vol-01 Issue-02


The General Sherman is a large sized redwood tree belonging to the Sequoia (Sequoiadedron Giganteum) family. This tree is found in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, California, USA along with the other giant Sequoia trees. In volume, it is the largest known living single stem tree on earth though it is neither the tallest nor the broadest or the oldest living tree on earth.

General Sherman

The General Sherman covers an area of 5 square miles along with the other groves of big trees.

Features

Some specific features of the giant General Sherman are:

Height: The height of this tree is 83.8 metres. The tallest tree in the world is a coast redwood, named Hyperion Tree (115.61 metres) located in Northern California.

Diameter: Circumference or diameter of General Sherman is 7.7meters. Both the cypress springing up near Mexico and the baobab have a greater diameter than the General Sherman.

Volume: The estimated bole volume of this Sequoia tree is 1,487 cubic meters which is considered to be the largest in the world.

It is the volume of the tree that makes the General Sherman look like one of the tallest and widest living tree on the planet and account for its botanical significance.

Leaves: The tree has gray-green scaled and prickly leaves. The root system is quite shallow and the tree requires sufficient soil moisture to survive.

Age: The General Sherman is estimated to be 2300 to 2700 years old thus making it one among the oldest living tree on earth.

History

The General Sherman was discovered by the famous naturalist James Wolverton in 1879.

General Sherman

Wolverton named the tree after General William Tecumesh Sherman in whose regiment Wolverton served as a lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry during the American Civil War.

In 1931, the General Sherman was declared as the largest tree in the world after going through comparisons with General Grant Tree.

General Sherman

It was in 1900s a wagon road passing beside the tree was constructed revealing it to the vehicular tourists for the very first time. Over the ensuing years, improvements were made to the road easing the access to the famous Giant forest. In the year 2005, a parking lot of 2.5 acres was demolished near the General Sherman tree and restored into forest land to give the tree back its natural surrounding.

Interesting Facts

One interesting feature of General Sherman is that the tree drops its branches when subjected to harsh weather conditions. Mature Sequoias have bare trunks and the first branch of this tree begins 130 feet above the ground. Most of the tree comprise of dead wood.

In 1978, a branch fell from the tree having a diameter greater than six feet. In 2006, the tree dropped a large branch that dismantled a wide area of fencing and also damaged the walkway. After much research and study botanists found no specific abnormalities with the tree that was responsible for this fall but was a result of self defense strategy against harsh weather conditions. This fall, however, did not affect the volume of the tree as the size of the tree is measured taking the volume of the actual stem and not the branches. Till date, no other single stem tree is found to have a larger trunk volume than the General Sherman.

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