News and Events - 3,200 Year Old Giant Sequoia

Thursday 20 March 2014

Giant sequoias live at high elevations and can endure cold, lightening strikes and heavy snow. 'The President' stands in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, east of Visalia, California. At 3,200-years-old, this giant sequoia is so large it hasn't been captured in a single image, before now. The tree stands at 74m and is 1,300m3 in volume. The tree trunk is currently 8.2m wide, but with an added cubic metre of wood per year, it is counted as one of the fastest growing trees in the world.

The giant sequoias only grow in one place: on the western slope of the Sierra Nevadas, at 1,524-2,438m above sea-level. To capture the image, a team of photographers from National Geographic worked with scientists from the park, and used an intricate set of pulleys and levers to scale the tree. The rigging that the group used was first pioneered by Michael Nichols, in 2009. The final image took 32 days and the stitching together of 126 separate photographs, to create a mosaic effect photograph.

With 'The President' holding two billion needles, the five-page fold-out that the image took in the December 2012 issue of National Geographic, showed the reader only a glimpse of the vastness of the tree, but very detailed photograph of the tree. As the tree stands, it is surrounded by his 'house' or 'senate' of other trees, including Chief Sequoyah - the 27th largest giant sequoia in the world - and the Congress Group - two dense stands of medium sized sequoias. The tree was named after President Warren G. Harding in 1923.

Although this is not the tallest tree in the world - that would be a California redwood standing at 116m tall - counted in mass, it is one of the largest.